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Suskind warns of dangers of Trump bashing media

Pulitzer Prize winner defends journalists against presidential attacks

February 6, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Ron Suskind used humor to get his point across. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

“Journalists are used to being hated, but we’re in a totally different place now,” Ron Suskind told the audience at the “Unrig the System Summit” in New Orleans on Feb. 2.

Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was referring to the bashing the media has taken from President Donald Trump over the past three years ever since the real estate mogul first mounted his White House bid in 2015.

Trump often describes news stories he doesn’t like as “fake news.”

Suskind was one of several speakers who were featured at the summit, a three-day conference at Tulane University organized by the bipartisan group Represent.Us.

The Feb. 2-4 summit, which featured dozens of speakers from the worlds of politics and media, was also filled with workshops and panel discussions focusing on ways to change the country’s political system through activism at the grassroots level.

More than 1,000 people from across the country attended the Unrig the System Summit.

MORE FROM THE SUMMIT:  Jennifer Lawrence discusses how to ‘Unrig the System’; Tish James shares her story

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Suskind, who spoke at the summit’s opening event, made the audience laugh with his spot-on impressions of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and the man who currently occupies the Oval Office.

But he also sought to make serious points about the role of journalists in America and why the current climate is ripe for major political changes like the kind of grassroots activism that Represent.Us is advocating.

The current political divide the nation finds itself in, with Democrats and Republicans at odds so fierce that compromise seems impossible to achieve, is akin to the Civil War, according to Suskind. “That’s the dilemma we’re all in now,” he said.

“Principles are under siege,” Suskind told the audience of political activists from all over the country. But “the moment you’re in is the ideal moment,” he added.

People are fearful in the Age of Trump and “fear drives action,” Suskind said.

He cautioned activists to try to understand the other side of the political divide, however. “We need to respect denial. There’s a lot of people out in the country in denial,” he said.

Still, there is room for hope, he said. “There are fundamental principles we do agree on,” he said.

Suskind, who was the senior national affairs reporter for the Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for feature reporting. He has written several books, including “A Hope in the Unseen,” “The Price of Loyalty” and “Confidence Men.”

He wrote extensively about the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

In his speech at Unrig the System, Suskind talked about the historic importance of journalism and its relationship to the First Amendment.

“We’re the only the profession mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Doesn’t that get us anything?” he asked in a call for the public to respect reporters and the work they do.

 

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