President Trump has called the press “the enemy of the people,” “very dangerous & sick” and, of course, “fake news.” Now newspapers are fighting back.
More than 300 newspapers across the US ran editorials Thursday promoting freedom of the press, part of an effort coordinated by the Boston Globe. Participants include large newspapers like the New York Times and small local publications with circulations as low as 4,000, and the Globe encouraged editorial boards to participate regardless of their political point of view. The Times has published a list of the participating papers.
The principle of a free press, the Globe’s editorial board wrote, “has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat.”
In a recent poll, the Globe noted, 48 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Americans overall agreed with Trump that the news media is the enemy of the people. Forty-three percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Americans said the president should be able to close news outlets for bad behavior.
“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” the board wrote. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”
Editorial boards around the country added their own words on Thursday.
From the Tampa Bay Times:
A free press builds the foundation for democracy. Citizens depend on honest, independent media for accurate information they need about their government, their elected leaders and their institutions. That is just as important in Tampa Bay and in communities across the nation as it is in Washington, and the Times takes that responsibility seriously.
We are, at the Sun-Times, the enemy of unchecked authority and undeserved privilege. We are the enemy of self-entitlement. We are the enemy of the notion that the only way up is to hold somebody else down.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.
On bitter cold January nights, we’re the people’s eyes and ears at city, town, village and school board meetings. We tell the stories of our communities, from the fun of a county fair to the despair a family faces when a loved one is killed.
We are always by your side. We shop the same stores, attend the same churches and hike the same trails. We struggle with daycare and worry about paying for retirement.
In our work as journalists, our first loyalty is to you.
The president appeared to respond to the editorials on Twitter Thursday morning:
THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018