Here are excerpts from a nationwide drive of news editorials to promote a free press and reject President Donald Trump’s drive to scapegoat journalists as “enemies of the people.” (Thanks to the many editors who e-mailed their editorials our way).
The Boston Globe: “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.”
Greensboro (North Carolina) News & Record: President Trump “believes there should be restrictions on how your government and elected officials should be covered, that there should be prohibitions on that flow of information. This in direct contradiction to the principle that the framers of our Constitution gave first priority …
"That’s the irrefutable reason that the authors of the Constitution specified a free press in its very first amendment. They were thinking about you.”
The Providence (Rhode Island) Journal: “The danger is that over time, Mr. Trump’s antics and the incivility he encourages could lead to the arrest of journalists or violence against them, and it could also erode the public’s faith in the First Amendment, which is the foundation of all our liberties.”
The (Florida) Sun Sentinel: “The press isn’t America’s enemy, Mr. President, it’s America’s watchdog.”
The Manchester (Vermont) Journal: “When you think about the people who are telling you a free press is your enemy, ask yourself: Why do they insist that is so? And if the press is your enemy, who would be your friend? Who would tell you the truth about your government, your police, your schools and your environment? Who would speak truth to power, and allow you to do the same? …
“Justice Hugo Black, who was known for his judicial opinions on the First Amendment, wrote, 'The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. … The press … is the enemy of darkness, corruption, opaqueness in the performance of public service and any other malign influence that would seek to block the unfettered transmission of information upon which the viability of this nation depends.'”
The Tampa Bay Times: “Far from being enemies of the people, we live in the same neighborhoods as our readers, eat in the same restaurants and shop in the same stores. Our kids attend the same schools, we get stuck in the same traffic jams and we worry about hurricanes hitting home.
“Trump’s assault on the news media ignores these connections, and it is having a corrosive effect.”
Des Moines Register: "The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger. The response to that cannot be silence."
The Henrico (Virginia) Citizen: "Our news production efforts – with a two-person newsroom and a part-time events editor – are modest in the grand scheme of journalism, and this national issue isn’t really our fight to wage. …
"But make no mistake: The trickle-down effect of the false narratives presented by the leader of the free world is impactful. We’ve experienced it in our own newsroom on several occasions during the past year – from both sides.
"In one case, a Republican candidate seeking office referred to us in throw-away terms as 'local fake news,' accusing us of intentionally excluding him from an emailed questionnaire that we actually had sent to every candidate from both parties seeking the office. He later realized that, in fact, he had received the questionnaire and simply had overlooked it.
"In another case, a Democratic supporter erroneously concluded that because we hadn’t updated an article published before her favored candidate had entered the race to reflect his entry, we must have had it out for him. She missed, apparently, the in-depth article about him that we published online after he announced his candidacy.
"People behave differently when they feel they’ve been wronged or singled out. That’s understandable.
"But when such conclusions and subsequent accusations stem from unproven – or worse, disproven – information, that’s unforgivable."
The Atlantic: "The president’s rhetoric doesn’t merely spread division and distrust; it is dangerous, and sick. Like all Americans, he has a right to critique the press. But he is also sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution — and this is what he must do."
Falls City (Nebraska) Journal: "As women’s rights pioneer and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells wrote in 1892: 'The people must know before they can act and there is no educator to compare with the press.'”
Chicago Sun Times: "We are the enemy of the societal failings of our city and country that have shaped the thugs and given them space. We are the enemy, that is to say, of dead-end jobs and no jobs, bad schools, racism, bad parenting and people who look away.
"We are the friend, though, of so much more. … We are the friend of righteous anger and real tears. We are the friend of real solutions, like tougher gun laws and better schools.
"We are the friend of the teacher who never gives up, of the small business owner who hires ex-offenders, of the bus driver who makes every last stop, of the architect who designs a beautiful building, and of the bricklayer and ironworker who build it.