Newspapers all over the United States published a series of editorials on Thursday, speaking up for a free and vigorous press and telling President Donald Trump that newspapers are not “the enemy of the people.”
It was the latest push by the media to fight back against Trump’s attacks on “fake news” which threaten freedom of the press and have led to threats against journalists by Trump supporters.
The Boston Globe started the campaign by contacting newspapers throughout the country urging them to speak in a unified voice. A spokesperson for the Globe estimated that 350 newspapers would participate in the coordinated effort to stand up for freedom.
Editorials are appearing today from Maine to Hawaii, speaking up against the president’s attacks.
In Portland, Maine the Press-Herald said “a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny.”
In Honolulu, the Hawaii Star-Advertiser wrote about democracy’s “critical need for a free press” in order to function.
In Iowa, the Des Moines Register wrote: “The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger.”
In St. Louis, Missouri, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots.” The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that “Trump is talking nonsense.” In North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop his attacks on the press, “but we’re not holding our breath.”
“Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants,” the Observer wrote.
The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people. “Like any true friend, we don’t always tell you want you want to hear,” the Morning News said. “Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness.”
Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Elizabethtown, Penn., for example, compared freedom of the press in the United States to freedoms and civil rights that had been promised but never delivered in communist Russia or the former Soviet Union.
The New York Times added a request that readers subscribe to newspapers to keep them afloat.
“If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers,” said the Times. “Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”
Some newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal published editorials saying they were not joining the Globe’s nationally coordinated effort.
The Baltimore Sun also didn’t participate, saying that it “plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.”
The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, has asked its members to let everyone know that journalists are friends and neighbors doing “important work” and holding government accountable.
“I want to make sure that it is positive,” said Dan Shelley, the executive director of the association. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters.”