This editorial is posted today in unity with more than 350 U.S. publications and organizations challenging President Donald Trump’s assertion that the media is the “enemy of the people.”
By now President’s Trump’s assailing of the U.S. media as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people” is as much a part of his early presidential legacy as his frequent braggadocios and often insulting tweet storms. No less than 400 times has Trump hung the “fake news” tag on the press since he initiated the phrase more than a year ago, according to a CNN analysis in early August.
The persistent attacks on the media and the baiting of his base to turn against the press at his political rallies are all too commonplace. In fact, it is an effective strategy to humiliate, debase and seize power from the Fourth Estate for doing its job. Calling them the enemy serves to distance the public from the media while his supporters can ironically embrace a president with a propensity for presenting unverifiable information almost daily.
So, are we, the press, the enemy of the people?
Of course not.
But, let’s also be clear, we are indeed an enemy.
We are the enemy of the crooked politicians who conduct insider trading and spend campaign finances on themselves and their families. We are the enemy of the corrupt who take money offshore and evade the American tax system and the enemy of people who line their pockets at the public till or take bribes from lobbyists and special interests to serve themselves and their own desires over those of the people.
We are the enemy of the powerful who choose to extend that power over others like a cloak of despair. We see enemies in high places when people are starving and destitute while the powerful live in laps of luxury. The media makes enemies of those who attempt to control all levels of government. We abhor dictators, fascists, oligarchs, tyrants, oppressors, authoritarians, despots and totalitarians.
We are the enemy of the liars who spin stories, deflect from answering questions and create “alternative facts.” We take on those who trade in real fabricated news and conspiracy theories that are built on few, if any, shreds of truth. We challenge those in our own profession when their stories appear more like political propaganda than a semblance of fairness and truthfulness.
We are the enemy of those who want to undermine the First Amendment, who hope to gag the press and limit our scope and abilities to report to the American people. We are the enemy of lawmakers from the smallest to the mightiest who want to use laws, rules, regulations, even policing power to control the flow of information to the people and plunge government business deeper into secrecy.
You see, we are capable of being an enemy. Our history shows we are a strong, united, committed group loyal to our mission of free, factual and fair information, and because of that, we create enemies over time.
But, the American people is not one of those.
We are not the enemy of the American people. We are an enemy on behalf of the American people.
And, the sooner this president learns that the sooner this nation will return to a symbol of democracy.