To the Editor:
I write out of concern about the kind of America we are leaving our children and grandchildren. Our values as a people, our democratic institutions and our Constitution are under assault.
I recently read a guest column written by the publisher of the Swift County Monitor-News. He wrote of the importance of local newspapers in informing the public. By holding government accountable, he reminded us, a free press is the worst enemy of corrupt politicians.
The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the freedom of the press. It is the cornerstone of a democracy. It is no surprise tyrants and wannabe authoritarians target the media for control. By discrediting the media and journalism (fake news) and replacing it with a state directed instrument of propaganda you deny democracy its most important defense and protection.
Mr. Trump calls the free press “the enemy of the American people” who are “crazed lunatics,” “unpatriotic,” “scum,” “slime,” and “lying disgusting people.” Demonstrating that his decency is bottomless in its depravity, he even mocked a reporter with a disability. He characterizes people who believe in the freedom of speech as “foolish people.” Count me as a fool. If the media contradict his lies then it is “fake news.” His views on the media are clear and it should scare the bejesus out of us.
Chris Wallace, one of the few, if not the only, journalist left at Fox News says it best: “Let’s start with a basic fact. President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on a free press in our history … he has done everything he can to delegitimize the media … his purpose is clear: a concerted campaign to raise doubts – that when we report critically about his administration – that we can be trusted.” Mr. Trump calls him “nasty and obnoxious” and his interviews “dumb and unfair.” Can we assume Mr. Wallace’s days at Fox are numbered?
Authoritarians always establish state directed media and journalism is aways replaced by instruments of political propaganda. A media sanctuary is created where their lies are repeated as truth; the truth is distorted, mischaracterized or ignored; their enemies are excoriated and friends showcased. Propaganda is reported by prime time political shills under the banner of news and journalism and truth become victims. By controlling the message authoritarians control the viewer’s mind and vote.
Mr. Trump’s remarks are designed to undermine reporting and cause readers/listeners to doubt even verifiable facts. His vitriolic rhetoric is an attack on our democracy and truth itself. Owners, publishers, editors and reporters of the media, including this newspaper, are not the enemies of the people, but rather, are professional journalists representing a free and independent press. It is their responsibility to report misrepresented perspectives, corruption and lies and are ethically bound by journalistic standards to do so truthfully and fairly.
Mr. Trump offers us a clear choice for our children: A state directed media distributing propaganda or a journalistically based media speaking truth to power? Choose wisely.