Even before the Revolutionary war began, the founding fathers and mothers articulated how important the freedom of the press is. The Continental Congress – the legislative body of these political minds – wrote in 1774:
The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs.
With these vaunted words in mind, I find President Trump’s baseless and spiteful tirades against journalists to be vile and disingenuous. They are also a clear and present danger to our country’s democracy.
Furthermore, President Trump knows full well that journalists take tremendous risks to do their job. They are willing to give up their families. They are willing to give up their limbs. They are willing to sacrifice everything to tell the truth. To call organizations such as the BBC, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN “fake news,” is beneath the office of POTUS. They are often the only publications with the resources and the integrity to tell the world what reality is. What would have happen to Europe during World War II if not for the BBC? What would have happened if the Washington Post never broke Watergate? Who would have reported on the AIDS epidemic if not the New York Times?
To be even more blunt. What was fake about Michael Kelly, a Washington Post columnist who covered the first Gulf War with distinction, and was killed in a Humvee accident outside Baghdad while traveling with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in the second war in Iraq?
What was fake about NBC journalist David Bloom, who also died while covering the war in Iraq. He was known by his colleagues as a modern-day Ernie Pyle. At the age of 39, he was also a father and husband, a tireless and resourceful reporter whose battlefield correspondence gave millions a soldier’s perspective of war.
Mr. President, were they fake news? Do you really believe that?
How dare you dishonor the legacies of these brave journalists by patronizing and smearing their organizations for your own petty gain. In the words of Joseph Pulitzer: “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together.”
Apparently Mr. Trump sees it differently. Apparently the Trump empire and its manipulation of the media will rise and fall with the collapse of public trust in the art of journalism. Not only is his ploy frighteningly self- serving, it is profoundly undemocratic.