I watched with fascination as this seemingly ambiguous reporter, sporting a thin goatee and a suit, asked a pointed question to White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
Sanders just finished another rant about media dishonesty regarding a retracted CNN story and condemned the news media as untrustworthy and dishonest.
Brian Karem, the questioner and a correspondent for The Sentinel, a Maryland newspaper, was going for the jugular. His voice teetered on the verge of restraint.
“We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers,” Karem said. “Any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us, but you have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that.”
He accused Sanders of inflaming the political environment in the United States by polarizing the media.
After watching this exchange I was reminded of my favorite Norman Rockwell painting, entitled “Freedom of Speech.” In it, a dark-haired man in a plaid shirt stands tall above a crowd of white-haired men in business suits in a town hall meeting. His eyes are transfixed and his mouth is slightly open, as if to articulate the first words of his dissent.
I love this painting so much because it’s a powerful reminder that “the people” in “We The People” is not a political party, government or industry. It’s the individuals.
Karem was in the briefing room on behalf of a media outlet, but his passion is unmistakably individualistic.
As we all reflected on what it means to be an American during the long Fourth of July weekend, I’m reminded that this act of critical dissent would be considered treasonous in many other countries, and that journalists have been jailed for lesser offenses.
A free press is troublesome to people in power, and rightfully so.
Such was the case in 1776, so it is today.