Today, with this editorial we are proud to join over 200 newspapers and news organizations across the U.S. to speak out for the core democratic values contained in the concept and exercise of a robust and independent free press in this country, and to decry efforts by President Trump and his followers to characterize the press as purveyors of “fake news” and as “enemies of the people.”
The valiant joint editorial action taken today by these news organizations, initiated by the Boston Globe, represents a forceful and much-needed answer to Trump’s contemptible assertions and to substitute truth with his own lies and deceptions in the minds of the American people. We hope there will be many more expressions of this type, even if just in the meritorious day-to-day work of talented and dedicated newsmen and women who are dedicated to insuring the “public’s right to know” on an hourly and daily basis.
This is far from the first time this newspaper has spoken out forcefully on this important subject. To us, our nation’s very democracy is being challenged by this president, who has gone far further than any other occupant of the White House to obfuscate and confuse the American people, and to set them against some of the most basic institutional bulwarks of democracy, including its law enforcement, legal and news organizations.
Today’s action by newspapers and news organizations across the U.S. is akin to a clarion call, a call to arouse and mobilize the American public to the serious danger that this administration’s behavior represents for democracy, per se. Many of its moves have already undermined the bedrock institutions of democracy and it is past due time for responsible representatives of democracy to exercise a full-throated call for putting it to a stop.
News has to take a stand. Professional journalists have to exercise their responsibility to inform the public of the different between truth and lies. They cannot sit back and complacently treat truth and lies as equivalents, not only allowing but encouraging both to have equal time without comment. This approach is to blame significantly for what’s brought the nation to this sorry moment.
Politicians should not be given a pass for their willingness to peddle lies in the name of gaining a political advantage, like it should be expected as “just what you do” to gain an edge. But such practices are reprehensible and have become far more commonplace in our current culture. Insofar as this is going on with impunity today, and far more among those of the lock-step-Trump-supporting Republican rather than the Democratic Party, it is doubly important that the press be doing its job impartially in the name of truth.
Truth, the public’s right to know, and the free discourse of news and ideas are not partisan matters, and it is the height of cynicism and abdication of duty when newsmen assume everyone’s viewpoint is solely to gain political advantage.