The press: We are not the enemy
I can barely believe it needs to be said, but the free press is not “the enemy of the people,” said Adrian Walker in The Boston Globe. President Trump repeatedly slanders journalists and scorns the very idea of free speech because he “will stop at nothing to silence criticism, no matter how legitimate.” Facts are his real enemy. That’s why over 350 newspapers have joined the Globe in publishing editorials extolling the need for an independent media in a free society. Trump, of course, says the #FreePress editorial campaign proves the media has it in for him, said Charles Pierce in Esquire.com, but “who cares?” If the press won’t band together to defend its “constitutionally protected job” against a corrupt, incompetent, “half-mad paranoid,” no one will.
What “a self-defeating act of journalistic groupthink,” said Michael Graham in CBSNews.com. Who’s going to be persuaded or impressed by hundreds of newspapers criticizing Trump while patting themselves on the back? The number of Americans professing “a great deal” of trust in newspapers hasn’t cracked 30 percent since 2006. You can’t pin that on Trump’s “fake news” rants, however “over-the-top and wrongheaded” they may be. Dull, hectoring editorials are not the answer to Trump’s “demagogic rhetoric,” said Sohrab Ahmari in CommentaryMagazine.com. Millions of voters sent “a vulgarian from Queens to the Oval Office” largely because of the media’s overt liberalism and “contempt for their cherished beliefs and condescension for their ways of life.” These people were not all “die-hard Trumpians.” If the press wants to start regaining the public’s trust, more humility and less venting of “anti-conservative animosities” would be a good start.
“I’ve written my share” of Trump criticisms, said Jack Shafer in Politico.com, but this “coordinated editorial response is sure to backfire.” His base tends “not to read newspapers in the first place,” and an avalanche of editorials “singing from the same script” is unlikely to move the “opinion needle” or deter Trump from attacking journalists and news organizations. Meanwhile, Trump gets a gift in the form of “circumstantial evidence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him.” Rather than providing the president with “fresh material,” perhaps editorial boards could collectively assign themselves a day of editorials on tariffs, global warming, or the endless war in Afghanistan. “Surely these issues are as compelling and urgent as press freedom.”