Over 300 news outlets across the United States launched a coordinated effort in a bid to defend the freedom of the press. The nationwide op-eds came after comments made by President Donald Trump that a “large percentage” of media is “fake news” and “an enemy of the American people.”
The media counter offensive was spearheaded by The Boston Globe and joined in by national and state-level publications including: The New York Times, The Telegraph (Illinois), Miami Herald, among others.
On Wednesday, the Boston Globe’s editorial board published “Journalists are not the enemy” calling for other outlets to join in on condemning what it saw as Mr. Trump’s attacks on the free press. The article claims that “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”. Paradoxically, while calling for a coordinated effort to denounce the President’s comments, the Globe also goes on to deny the President’s claims that news media is driven by a coordinated effort to undermine his presidency.
The New York Times, followed the Globe’s rallying call with an editorial piece titled “A free press needs you”. Earlier this month, the outlet controversially hired Sarah Jeong to it’s editorial board who sparked outrage after her tweets calling to “#CancelWhitePeople” and saying that white people are “only fit to live underground like groveling goblins” resurfaced. After citing founding father Thomas Jefferson and appealing to the ideals of the American Revolution the New York Times piece ends on a point calling for higher rates of subscription.
Many other local and national outlets joined in to condemn the president’s claim that a portion of the press is an enemy of the people.
The Center for Public Integrity, Washington D.C.:
“Fair, rigorous criticism of the press is welcome and expected, but attacks labeling it as the ‘enemy of the people’ or ‘dangerous & sick’ are neither appropriate nor responsible.”
The Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Florida:
“In such a toxic environment, Trump’s declarations undermine not just journalists and news organizations but the communities and democracy we endeavor to serve.”
The Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois:
“At some point such verbal assault encourages ideological extremists to take action. It threatens journalists’ personal safety. And it undercuts that responsibility for a press that’s supposedly free of government control to act as a watchdog on public officials.”
President Donald Trump responded with a number of tweets in response to the press claiming that “There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.”
The media effort comes at a time when trust in mainstream news sources continues to dwindle. A gallup poll conducted in 2016 reported that only 32% of Americans have a fair amount of trust in mainstream news sources, compared to the 53% reported in 1997. While both parties have steadily lost trust in mainstream media, only 14% of Republicans claim that they still trust mainstream media.
The monopolisation of the press and a distinct anti-conservative bias have fuelled the contempt Republicans feel for the mainstream media.