In the face of a frontal assault on press freedom by Trump, the American media fights back

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Published: August 20, 2018 2:48:13 AM

A tsunami of editorials hit US president Donald Trump on Thursday. In response to Trump disparaging critical media organisations in the US often as “fake new media” and, more dangerously, “enemy of the American people”.

Donald Trump (Reuters)

A tsunami of editorials hit US president Donald Trump on Thursday. In response to Trump disparaging critical media organisations in the US often as “fake new media” and, more dangerously, “enemy of the American people”, The Boston Globe led a charge to uphold the independence of media, with its editorial board writing that long-held principle of free press “has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today, it is under serious threat.” It also wrote, “The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful. To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.” Mainstream media concerns in the US, except for a handful, have been largely critical of Trump, his administration’s key figure and the Trump regime’s domestic and foreign policy.

Trump has reserved his worst for the media. Brooking no criticism—whether on his immigration policy or plan to wind up the Clean Air Act or the many policy missteps made by him, or of his divisive politics—Trump has publicly cast aspersions on media outlets’ credibility without providing any evidence whatsoever. He has even called them “the Opposition”, driven by a “political agenda” in an attempt to discredit critics. He and members of his administration have singled out certain media personnel, on several occasions, to vilify.

Trump has, in fact, used the podium at political rallies and meets to induce this distrust of the media in his core constituency. As per a recent poll by a media organisation, 48% of Republicans and 29% of Americans agreed with Trump that the news media is “the enemy of the people”—43% of Republicans and over a quarter of Americans believed that president should be given the power to shut down news outlets for “bad behaviour” (read criticism of Trump or his administration). In the US, the clear and present danger to the fourth estate that functions as a watchdog and ensures government accountability of becoming a casualty of Trump’s post-truth politics inspired the push back.

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