US Press fights Donald Trump on Media Freedom | Daily News

US Press fights Donald Trump on Media Freedom

There are threats to journalists here today, being identified as ‘traitors to the Motherland’, and increased voices from both government and opposition against media freedom, which remains under threat here. Meanwhile, the US media has taken a strong initiative to support Media Freedom from the rising authoritarianism of the Keep America First politics.

In a major defence of the Freedom of the Press and wider Democracy, more than 400 newspapers in the United States came out in a strong stand against recent and rising attacks on the media by President Donald Trump, on Thursday August 16.

The historic move in the fight to preserve the Freedom of the Press came in support of a call by the Boston Globe urging newspapers across the US to take a coordinated stand against Trump’s anti-media attacks, just a week earlier. The Globe urged editorial boards of US newspapers - from big city papers to small weeklies - to attack the “dangers of the administration’s assault on the press”. It said each paper would write and publish its own individual editorial, so that each approaches the topic with its perspective and its own voice.

Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s deputy editorial page editor making its pitch to the nation’s papers said, “The impact of Trump’s assault on journalism looks different in Boise (Idaho) than it does in Boston… Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.” The Globe’s call came after noticing the recent uptick in the intensity of Trump’s anti-media rhetoric.

Supporting the call Pritchard wrote in a Sunday tweet “This is not about being a Democrat. And this is not about being a Republican…This is about the importance of a free press, enshrined in the Constitution, something we should all get behind.”

The call for coordinated media action came after recent attacks on the media by Donald Trump who referred to the media as the “enemy of the people”. At a Pennsylvania rally earlier this month, he repeatedly called the media the “enemy of the American people” and described the press as “fake disgusting news.” He asked the large crowd present “Whatever happened to the free press? Whatever happened to honest reporting?” And said, “They don’t report it. They only make up stories,” to cheers from the crowd. At one major rally recently he said, “Don’t hear the crap you hear from these people”, pointing the journalists covering the event, getting huge supportive cheers from the audience. Repeated statements about the media or even ‘fake media’ as the enemy of the people, posed a major threat to journalists in the US, who are critical of the Donald Trump presidency. At some public rallies addressed by Trump, the crowd has shouted questions and made verbal attacks on journalists covering the events from media outlets critical of the Trump Presidency.

War on the press

The Washington Post, supportive of the Boston Globe reported Jay Rosen, a media critic and journalism professor, (on Twitter) stating journalists’ defending themselves was consistent with the chief journalism aim of telling the truth: “The problem, of course, is that there is war on the press being conducted by the president of the United States and his supporters. To say otherwise would violate a different commandment. Yes, it is imperative to keep your cool. It is equally imperative to state what is true.”

Others have argued there is a moral imperative to speak up because Trump’s rhetoric can result in more than words being hurled toward journalists.

Some have pointed to the killing of five people who worked at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis as an example. The man charged with five counts of murder in the killings had a vendetta against the newspaper, authorities said. The Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote: “What’s clear is that Trump has made it a verbal open season on journalists, many of whom have felt the sting one way or another “For all of us ink-stained wretches, the hate mail is more vicious than ever. The death threats more frequent.”

The Trump attacks on the media continues to rise. With the approach of the mid-term elections to Congress and Senate in November this year, this is expected to be intense, with increased danger to journalists on the field. Here are some of the quotes from the response of newspapers to the Boston Globe’s call to respond to “dangers of the administration’s assault on the press”.

The Miami Herald: President Donald Trump has veered into unfamiliar and perilous territory with his unceasing all-out assault on the free press and the First Amendment. Of course, the irony of Trump’s attacks on the “SICK!” and “very dishonest people” in “the fake media” he accuses of purveying, yes, “fake news” is that he himself is a product of the New York tabloids. He’s as savvy about manipulating his coverage as he is adept in undermining it….Every reporter who has ever covered a Trump rally knows the scratch of a threat that’s conveyed during that ritual moment when he aims the attention of the crowd to reporters, many of whom no longer stand in the press pen in the back for that reason.

Tampa Bay Times: Trump calls journalists “the enemy of the American people.’’ He regularly refers to “fake news’’ and the “fake news media.’’ Those assaults by the president cannot be brushed aside as theatrics, particularly when they are embraced by some of his strongest supporters and copied by politicians in Florida and elsewhere.

Orlando Sentinel: By labeling news reports he disagrees with as “fake news,” the president is trying to discredit the journalists this country relies on to keep watch and inform... And even worse, President Trump demonizes journalists, calling them the “enemy of the American people” and “dangerous and sick…” A president’s criticizing the press is nothing new. But a president’s trying to escape scrutiny by declaring the press the nation’s enemy goes too far.

The Denver Post: Trump is a difficult politician to cover. His tweets and factually inaccurate statements frequently put him at loggerheads with the media. In a vacuum void of his outlandish statements, some of Trump’s policies would earn more straightforward media coverage. It has become a destructive cycle where the media covers Trump’s words and instead of self-reflection following scathing media reports, Trump cries fake news… It’s a dangerous cry coming from the White House.

The San Diego Union-Tribune: That’s why the president’s recent tweet that “the fake news” is “the Enemy of the People” and “very dangerous and sick” is itself dangerous. Flooded with Trump’s anti-press sentiments, people increasingly agree with the president; when asked “which comes closer to your point of view: the news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?” 26 percent said the former in a new Quinnipiac University poll of 1,175 U.S. voters. Forty-four percent said they are concerned Trump’s criticism of the news media will lead to violence against people working in it… While his words inflict harm, Trump didn’t invent the term “fake news.” It dates back to the 1800s. He also isn’t the first to weaponize media mistrust.

The New York Times: In 2018, some of the most damaging attacks are coming from government officials. Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period.

These attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry’s economic crisis. Yet the journalists at those papers continue to do the hard work of asking questions and telling the stories that you otherwise would not hear.

Des Moines Register: No one who works in media can defend everything that passes for ‘news’ in this country today. We recognize it can be painfully off track. It can be biased. Reporters sometimes make mistakes… But the press is not the enemy of the people. Its primary goal is to provide information to the public and provide a check on all three branches of government. This is critical in a democracy.

The true enemies of the people – and democracy – are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger…The response to that cannot be silence”.

(The editorials of many of the newspapers that supported the Boston Globe call could be seen on https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/15/opinion/editorials/free-p...)

The Des Moines Register states that Lesley Stahl, the Emmy award-winning ‘60 Minutes’ correspondent recently talked about her November 2016 interview with Donald Trump – the first after his winning the election. When asked if he planned to stop attacking the press – something he repeatedly did in his campaign. He said, “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you”. Take a moment to let the implications of that statement soak in.

Donald Trump continues with his attacks on the media and his repeated references to ‘fake news’ in almost every Twitter message or comment he makes that has any reference to the continuing inquiring about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which he won. The ‘fake news’ label is now added to most comments by him on reports critical of presidential decisions and the widening autocratic policies of the Trump administration.

There is every indication the US media will need a continued and determined campaign against this Trump trend, and also maintain a commitment to protect the Freedom of the Press and rights of Free Speech, needed from the threats of rising pluralism in the West, with links to the Fascism of the German Nazis. 


 

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