Today, the Record-Journal joins newspapers across the country in condemning the attacks on the news media by the president of the United States. The coordinated response was proposed by the editorial page of the Boston Globe. The roughly 200 publications that have chosen to participate range from major metropolitan to small weekly newspapers.
As President Donald Trump’s administration lurches from crisis to crisis, his egregious actions and tweets have become so routine as to engender a numbness of response, particularly from a Congress-controlling Republican Party that has abdicated its responsibility to protect the interests of the American people. By contrast, news organizations have not withered, but have continued to do what they have always done, which is aggressively pursue the facts and the interests of fair and accurate reporting.
Perhaps it is this resolve that the president finds so irritating, because it is the president who withers in the sunshine of open information. In response to the facts, the president resorts to name calling and stigmatization, bringing discourse to the level of the playground.
Thus journalists are called “the enemy of the people.” Thus news the president finds ill suited to the preciousness of his ego is called “fake news.” Unable to carry on in the light, the president attempts to drag us all into a dark labyrinth where rules don’t apply and some vacant concept of winning seems attainable. This is the playground of “alternative facts.”
But news organizations do not play in that dark playground. They perform in the light, and as such they are not the “enemy of the people” but precisely the opposite.
It was just a little more than a month ago that newsrooms around the globe united in a moment of silence for the five employees of the Capital Gazette who lost their lives on June 28 in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in American history. Even after that assault in Maryland, the president continued to deride the media. He continues to do so to this day.
Though derision and name calling is the game of the child, the attack in Maryland shows the consequences can be deadly serious. The role of a free press remains as essential as ever, and news organizations will remain undaunted in the pursuit of that role.