OUR VIEW: President Trump, the press is a vital American institution

Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2018 19:19

The Willimantic Chronicle

Donald Trump isn’t the first U.S. president to clash with the American press.

In fact, one cannot call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. home without having regular disagreements with those whose job it is to decipher the truth.

After all, there are political agendas to push and movements to stifle.

But what the 45th president of the United States is trying to pull off should have those who value freedom and what the country stands for sweating profusely.

Let’s start with the term Trump has been trumpeting since January 2017 - “fake news.”

This unto itself is egregious enough to merit worry amongst patriotic, freedom-loving folks.

After all, what started out as a term to describe the phony social media content that has flooded the internet in recent years, much of it by a foreign enemy, has expanded.

These days, “fake news” is what Trump uses to describe anything printed or broadcast that he doesn’t agree with or doesn’t want known.

Don’t like reports of what’s coming out of the Russian probe? “Fake news,” cries Trump.

Don’t want truthful analysis of everything from climate change to economic policy? Fake news.

The term is even used to describe situations when Trump’s own words get him into trouble, when his comments are unfiltered before a television camera.

In reality, when the president says “fake news,” folks should interpret that as “truth.”

But the “fake news” attacks are merely a prelude to more recent diatribes against the Fourth Estate, the one sworn to uphold the First Amendment of the Constitution.

He’s used worse terminology while tweeting or speaking.

To Trump, the “media” in general is the “enemy of the American people” and “dangerous and sick.”

Those types of comments wreak of totalitarian rhetoric heard time and again through history.

Trump’s goal in all of this is simple and he’s even admitted it himself.

If he can discredit those charged with watching what he and those governing the country do, then he can, basically, get away with anything he wants.

Remember, this is a man who, during the 2016 election, said his followers support him so much, he could shoot a man and not lose any voters.

What’s unnerving is he may be right.

So when he continues to attack the press as a whole with almost demonic disdain without any proof of inaccuracies, he’s not hurting the feelings of journalists.

They’re tough men and women. They can take it.

What he’s doing is undermining democracy itself, the very qualities of our country that fuel flag-wavers, the “USA” chants and people who properly take their hats off when they hear the National Anthem.

This man, who questions anybody and everybody’s patriotism as a knee-jerk response to social protest, is as unpatriotic as anyone.

But worse than undermining democracy, Trump is - quite literally - putting the safety of these Constitutional guardians at risk.

We saw what could happen in Annapolis, Md., earlier this year, when a crazed gunman killed six newspaper employees.

While the attack wasn’t directly tied to Trump’s message, the gunman - who had a beef with coverage of his arrest years earlier - had been silent for the past couple years.

Who knows the role Trump’s empowering of folks to maliciously oppose any “media” played in this case.

Trump’s assault on the “media” hits more than just CNN, MSNBC and the television networks.

It hits at all organizations, which have already endured severe economic difficulties in recent decades, that make truth, justice and the Constitution their mission.

The fact one ego-driven leader thinks it’s OK to destroy such a vital American institution is nothing new. It’s Dictators 101.

What’s truly horrific is the fact millions of his followers support this and continue to do so.

They’re not standing by their man. They’re really imperiling our democracy.

The Willimantic Chronicle is a sister publication of The New Britain Herald and Bristol Press.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Wednesday, 15 August 2018 19:19. Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2018 19:21.