Last week the Boston Globe called on American newspapers, large and small, to publish editorials today in defense of a free press. And while I’ve never been a professional reporter, I worked in publishing long enough to know that freedom of the press is essential to protecting our way of life.
Our president, Donald Trump, has for months attacked the press as “fake news,” whatever that means, and called the press “the enemy of the people.” His constant, virulent attacks excite and incite his followers to the point that violence is just a hair’s breadth away. Reporters are being verbally assaulted and abused, and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured. Trump’s attacks on the press are, in my opinion, the result of an unstable individual who can’t stand criticism and fears the public will learn the truth about him.
Nevertheless, a free press is doing its job, reporting as best it can the truth about what’s happening in Washington. The Constitution requires it. Democracy demands it.
I encourage you to read some of the editorials from around the country (about 350). A good place to start would be the New York Times, whose editorial, “A Free Press Needs You,” is followed by excerpts from and links to many other newspapers.
The Cape Cod Times
“The true enemy of any democracy is ignorance,
and the only way to battle ignorance is through the acquisition of knowledge:
a single set of well-researched, incontrovertible, unbiased facts.”
The Omaha World-Herald
“History has demonstrated, time and again,
the importance of journalism in shining a light on government
and explaining key issues confronting communities and our nation.”
The San Francisco Chronicle and several other papers declined to participate. Chronicle writer John Diaz explains:
It plays into Trump’s narrative that the media are aligned against him. I can just anticipate his Thursday morning tweets accusing the “FAKE NEWS MEDIA” of “COLLUSION!” and “BIAS!” He surely will attempt to cite this day of editorials to discredit critical and factual news stories in the future, even though no one involved in those pieces had anything to do with this campaign.
Yes, it might play into Trump’s narrative. But isn’t media silence exactly what Trump wants? Either way, it’s a cinch his attacks won’t stop.