Hundreds of US newspapers denounce Trump’s attacks on media in coordinated editorials


NEW YORK, Aug 16 (APP):Hundreds of US newspapers devoted space on Thursday to a coordinated defence of press freedom and a rebuke of President Donald Trump for saying some media organizations are enemies of the American people.
The Boston Globe and The New York Times took part in the push along with more than 350 other newspapers of all sizes including some in states that Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.
The Boston Globe, which led and coordinated the media campaign, wrote that “today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people’.”
“This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president, much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd,” its editorial, entitled “Journalists are not the Enemy,” said.
In July, President Trump blasted The New York Times and The Washington Post as “anti-Trump haters” who “do nothing but write bad stories even on very positive achievements” they will never change.”
The terms “fake news” and “enemy of the people” have often been used by Trump in connection any critical news reports. The president even admitted in a tweet in May 2018 that he considered any negative news regarding his person or administration “fake news.”
In another tweet on Thursday, he denounced the “fake news” media as the “opposition party.”
The Globe also argued that Trump’s treatment of the press was encouraging the world’s authoritarian leaders to suppress free journalism.
“Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country,” the Globe wrote.
The New York Times, one of the newspapers most targeted by Trump, pointed out the dangers of blanket criticism of the press both to democracy and to journalists themselves.
“[I]nsisting 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,” the Times wrote.
The outgoing UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper this month that Trump’s classing of journalists as enemies was “getting very close to incitement to violence.”
Here is a sampling of what the newspapers said:
The New York Times chose the headline A Free Press Needs You, calling Mr Trump’s attacks “dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy”. It published excerpts from dozens more publications beneath
The New York Post – a pro-Trump tabloid – answered the Globe’s call by saying “Who are we to disagree?” adding: “It may be frustrating to argue that just because we print inconvenient truths doesn’t mean that we’re fake news, but being a journalist isn’t a popularity contest. All we can do is to keep reporting.” But it also said: “Will this make a difference? Not one whit”
The Philadelphia Inquirer said its city was the birthplace of US democracy, writing: “If the press is not free from reprisal, punishment or suspicion for unpopular views or information, neither is the country. Neither are its people”
Opinion writers at McClatchy put out an editorial for the 30 daily newspapers it runs, including the Miami Herald, saying they hardly ever spoke with one voice but were doing so now. It said, “It’s how Joseph Stalin’s critics were marked for execution.”
Another paper to join the campaign was the Topeka Capital-Journal which said of Trump’s attack on the media: “It’s sinister. It’s destructive. And it must end now.” The paper was one of the few to endorse Trump in 2016.
Trump’s supporters said the fact that he won without such media endorsements may cast doubt on whether the Globe’s campaign would actually dent his support.
There have been some dissenting voices to the Globe’s campaign.
Tom Tradup at the conservative website panned the Globe’s “pathetic bid to pretend it is still relevant”, writing: “I would not presume to tell anyone else what to think or what to do. But as for me – and I suspect many others – I won’t be putting any coins in any newspaper box August 16th.”
The Wall Street Journal declined to take part. An earlier piece by James Freeman argued Trump was entitled to free speech and the Globe’s drive ran counter to the very independence it was seeking.