Unlike many other countries of the world where the press is scared to take on powerful people and institutions, the freedom exercised by the US media to stand up for its people, is a sight to behold
Being the world's strongest military power and economy, the United States is often talked about as a country where racial segregation, systematic injustice and rising inequalities afflict the lives of the marginalised communities.
The coronavirus pandemic – claiming one life out of 2,000 people of colour – has proven that such portrayal of the world's most powerful country didn't come out blue. Besides, when the US police brutally murdered George Floyd – a black man from Minnesota – the faults in its system and social fabric were once again exposed to the world.
But a system which failed to contain/control such instances of injustices, inequalities and racism, however, still manages to outdo many other countries when it comes to talking about the malaise afflicting its nation, criticising the establishment and holding to account the powers that be.
When US politicians failed to protect its citizens from racial segregation and systematic injustice; when the country's president has taken a confrontational position against the protesters who seek justice, the US press has fearlessly taken on Donald Trump and the broken system which allowed such injustices to fester.
Unlike many other countries of the world where the press is scared to take on powerful people and institutions, the freedom exercised by the US media to stand up for its people, is also a sight to behold.
Over the last few years, the world has come to see how the US media and Donald Trump – the most powerful man on earth – have been at loggerheads with each other. Unlike previous US presidents, Donald Trump is in a war against the media regularly takes on "fake media" through his Twitter handle.
But despite such continuous attacks from the planet's most powerful man, the US media has never stopped from taking on Donald Trump.
Whereas in many countries such confrontations between the president and media would result badly for the press, including threats, shutting down and more grievous harm of journalists in some cases, the US media has been by and large safe.
So what empowers the US media to this extent? And why is it that Donald Trump, despite holding such powers, cannot do anything except for ranting about the "fake media" on Twitter?
In pursuit of an answer, we often mention the first amendment of the US constitution that promises unconditional freedom of speech and the press.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances," reads the first amendment of the US constitution.
But examples of such constitutional assurances are abundant in many other countries where journalism is often treated as if it is a crime and the journalists are treated badly.
So what else is the US is doing right, apart from ensuring such constitutional rights?
Shafquat Rabbee, an academic based in Texas who carefully follows US politics, believes the US media is protected by three layers of freedoms: the independent institutions, the decentralised format of the government, and privatisation where the government has a little or no influence.
Firstly, The United States has been endowed with a bunch of fiercely independent institutions. Many US institutions – the FBI for example, or the judiciary – function with exemplary freedoms.
Unlike many other countries where public office holders often influence the judiciary and security forces, these US institutions have their own code of conducts and a reputation of upholding that independence.
Secondly, thanks to the decentralised format of the US government, a crazy president like Donald Trump cannot just order shutting down a particular media through his late-night tweets.
It is because of this decentralised format of government that a police chief in Houston can openly ask the country's president to shut up on national television and nothing happens to his job and personal security.
Adding insult to injury, even if an enraged Donald Trump endeavours to take actions against the police chief, he has to go through the local mayors or governors, who can always turn down such illegitimate requests. For debates' sake, even if the local government takes punitive measures, there are myriads of independent institutions where this police officer can ask for protection.
In many countries where the media is targeted by the government, a common strategy to silence the press is to dry up revenues. Since government advertisement is a big source of revenues for the press, they sometimes fail to stand up against the oligarchs when their survival is in question.
In this regard, the US media enjoys the privileges of a vibrant market economy. They do not rely much on the government for revenues.
Constantly taking on an egomaniac like Donald Trump canresult disastrously for some people, such as the Virginia woman who raised her middle finger at the president's motorcade and lost her job with a government contractor.
Since her employer works with the government, Donald Trump could easily influence the contractor to fire her.
But when it comes to media and journalists, President Trump can hardly create pressure on the journalists and the press financially because none of them rely on government for revenues.
Donald Trump has but all the traits of an autocrat except that he cannot unleash his vengeance like others thanks to a system which – despite all its faults and weaknesses– respects and protects freedom of the press, freedom of opinions and expression.