Newspapers Take Up Pens to Assail Fake-News Rhetoric

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump continued his anti-press attacks Thursday as more than 350 editorials in publications across the country decried his rhetoric that the free press is “the enemy of the American people.”

Dusting off an old trope from his ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Trump labeled the press as the opposition party in a morning tweet.

“THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY,” Trump wrote. “It is very bad for our Great Country…BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

Continuing his Twitter rant an hour later, Trump accused the Boston Globe of colluding with other papers.

He followed that up with a third tweet: “There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!”

While deeply entrenched ethical principles as outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists forbid journalists from making stuff up or fabricating sources, the president’s verbal attacks against the press have been constant.

This prompted the Boston Globe to urge hundreds of news publications to band together with editorials Thursday that rebuke what it termed the president’s “dirty war” on the press.

According to the Globe, more than 300 outlets of all sizes committed to running original editorials challenging the notion that the free press and journalists are a harm to the nation.

Many of the editorials focused on the importance of a free press to American democracy, as enshrined by the First Amendment, and the role newspapers play in serving as a check on government corruption and abuse.

Courthouse News joined the effort, noting that journalists can only be called the enemy of the people so many times “before enough is enough.”

“That’s why on Thursday, Courthouse News joins the Boston Globe and hundreds of other news organizations across the nation to remind the president and all Americans that a free press was so precious to our Founding Fathers, they enshrined it in the Bill of Rights,” the editorial says.

Some of the editorials published Thursday called on the president to end his war on the free press, saying his labeling of the media as “fake news” endangers democracy.

The Globe argued that Trump’s anti-press attacks egg on authoritarian leaders who have track records of stifling a free press.

“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,” the Globe’s editorial said.

The New York Times meanwhile said it is fair to criticize the press, but that the president’s rhetoric is dangerous.

“Insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy,” the Times wrote. “And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.”

Some major newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun, penned pieces that express skepticism of the coordinated effort.

“While we agree that labeling journalists the “enemy of the American people,” and journalism “fake news” is not only damaging to our industry but destructive to our democracy, a coordinated response from independent — dare we say “mainstream” — news organizations feeds a narrative that we’re somehow aligned against this Republican president,” the Sun wrote.

Successive administrations have railed against the press, but Trump’s verbal assaults have taken on a different tenor, even after five Capital Gazette journalists were gunned down in June by a gunman with an axe to grind with the Annapolis newspaper.

Earlier this month, President Trump called the media “fake, fake disgusting news” at a rally in Pennsylvania.

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