Role of media under microscope after Trump administration official’s comments

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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is adding fuel to the fire in the administration’s ongoing battle with the media.

During an interview with the New York Times, Bannon called the media, “the opposition party” and said it should, “keep its mouth shut for a while.”

These comments are controversial, and have many people talking about the historic role of the press, and it’s function.

”Historically, we've seen a lot of corruption and a lot of abuse brought about, brought to light because of  the media,” said Derigan Silver, associate professor at the University of Denver Department of Media, Film and Journalism studies.

The professor knows there are plenty of people who are frustrated by the media, fed up with fake news spread through social media, and the polarizing effect of some cable news outlets.

But he said it is important to remember the historic role of the media, going back to the Founding Fathers.

“A really strong belief was we needed freedom of expression, and we needed a very strong and robust press as a check on government abuse,” Silver said.

Besides Watergate, local news investigations also make a difference.

Investigators exposed dangerous guardrails prompting a national review. They caught a man taking bribes to change the results of drug tests. And they exposed a Denver School Board appointee with a criminal background.

Globally, we face so many challenges, yet according to a watchdog group, in 2013 only 14 percent of the world enjoyed freedom of the media.

“If you look at any totalitarian regime, one of the first things they do is they clamp down on the press. They try to limit information that is coming out of the government, and they try to limit the ability of the press to criticize the government, and we really have to remember that we are very lucky in this country,” Silver said.

In a world with so much in question, he maintains we must remember the function of the Fourth Estate.

“Now more than ever, when there is so much information out there, we really need good professional journalism," Silver said.