Meryl Streep Speaks on the Importance of Free Press at Golden Globes and Trump Retaliates

Mark Wallheiser/Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images.
Article By: Jazmine Alcon

Last night, at the Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep accepted the honorary Cecile B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. During her acceptance speech, Streep urged the audience to remember the importance of free press, diversity, holding people in power accountable, and the people of Hollywood’s duties to remain empathetic and aware.  

Streep used her platform to slam Donald Trump’s actions during the election cycle without directly using his name. She recounted a day in November 2015, where Trump, during his campaign speech, mocked a disabled reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a condition called arthrogryposis, characterized by multiple joint contractures, meaning his joints don’t move as much as normal or may even be stuck in one position. This moment was one that Streep, along with majority of the country, could not forget:

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.”

She then went on to talk about Trump’s responsibility as president-elect. As someone in a position of power, the presidential seat and its occupant become an important symbol within the country and worldwide. When someone in a position of power uses their platform to humiliate and bully others, permission is granted for average people in society to do the same. As Streep warned:

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Streep recognizes how the duty of the press plays a vital role in educating the public. “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage(...)So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.” For the past few months, before and after the election, the press has played an important role in accurately informing the public and keeping the people up to date to be able to form a wholesome point of view about politics, economics, finance, and more. Providing honest news is the duty of the press to the public, and they must not be pressured or silenced by an authority figure to avoid backlash by morphing the truth.

Trump responded earlier today on Twitter calling Meryl Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses” and states that Streep doesn’t know Trump personally but “attacked” him. Trump claims that he never mocked a disabled reporter, although there are multiple videos that serve as proof of him doing so at his campaign rally on November. Trump’s response has been called “childish (and) petulant” by Stephen King. With his reply, Trump shows his incapability to be criticized for his actions. But, as president-elect, he needs to learn that his position comes with being under the spotlight and a target for critique.  

Meryl Streep has been commended by many for her speech and her “bravery”: 

While Streep using her platform to put a spotlight on Trump’s actions and other vital issues is important, it is certainly not “brave”, and she is not the first one to do so. Many others who do not hold the same privileges Streep has have been highlighting the issues of ableism and lack of diversity before her. It is important to shine light and educate the masses on these issues but it is important not to skip over anyone's input, especially those with little to no privilege, as they are a part of the narrative as well. Praising a celebrity who, most likely, will not be too damaged by expressing their political opinion, and ignoring activists risking their lives on the forefront of every protest, and average people directly affected by these problems is counterproductive to the efforts to protect freedom of press.