Over the past week, the news has been heavily covering an "incident" between Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the cast of Hamilton. Mike Pence attended the show and was booed by audience members. After the show, the cast delivered a message to the Vice-President elect asking him to work to represent all Americans. Regardless of whether this was the appropriate venue to deliver a message to Mr. Pence, . President-elect Donald Trump scolded the cast of Hamilton for their mistreatment of Mr. Pence. He demanded an apology from them immediately. He then went on to criticize Saturday Night Live's less than flattering portrayal of his transition effort. He also demanded more "fair coverage" and less bias from SNL. During his most recent meeting with the New York Times, he asked that they go easy on him. He believes they have treated him unfairly and would like for them to make amends for their biased coverage.
Most of you are probably questioning, what does this have to do with telenovelas? It might seem like a bit of a stretch right now, but President-elect Donald Trump's responses remind me of President Hugo Chavez's responses to entertainment and the media. His twitter rants and videos completely bypass our journalistic institutions. To some people, this may seem as a positive thing. He gets to deliver his message without the middleman and as a result, is free from any potential media bias. However, it also doesn't hold him accountable to the tough, uncomfortable questions the media deserves to ask. Chavez took things way further and as we have seen first hand in our class, shut down networks like RCTV. He prohibited telenovelas from airing due to the "negative" influence they had on the Venezuelan people. Now, I am not saying that Donald Trump will ever take things this far, but it all has to start somewhere. He has discredited reputable news sources like the New York Times. He has attacked the very institution of political satire that has been a foundation in the relationship between the government and the American people. By discrediting these sources, it makes it difficult for his supporters to get the truth, because let's face it, politicians (even inexperienced ones like Trump) are bound to lie. His direct videos remind me of the Aló Presidente airings that Chavez used to do. In fact, before the election ended, there was talk about how he wanted to establish a news channel called Trump TV.
I think if there's one thing this class has made very clear to me, it's the importance of free media and entertainment. Dr. A told use to never take our democracy for granted. I think, we, as the American people, have the right to hold our politicians to a high standard of transparency. Some may say that this is a biased view but I'm not just saying this should apply to Donald Trump, it should apply to every person that aspires to hold public office. From Broadway shows to American traditions like SNL, entertainment should have the right to mock politicians, ask tough questions, and bring important issues to light. This is how democracy works. The second institutions like the NYT feel as though they cannot ask tough questions, our democracy is in danger. Therefore, I think we should be vigilant. We need to demand transparency from our elected officials. We need to demand freedom of the press.