President Donald Trump on Thursday continued his long-running crusade against the media, bashing so-called “FAKE NEWS,” as hundreds of publications across the country published editorials defending the press against his relentless attacks.
“THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!”
“Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right,” the New York Times editorial read. “News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. But insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.”
More than 350 papers across the country rebuked Trump’s media attacks, according to the Boston Globe, which first proposed the joint response.
“Lies are antithetical to an informed citizenry, responsible for self-governance. The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” the Globe wrote in its own editorial. “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.”
Attacks on the media have been a prominent fixture of Trump’s presidency, with “fake news” one of his most frequent refrains. His criticism has ranged from dismissing unflattering reports about his administration as part of a “highly sophisticated ... Disinformation Campaign” to attacks on specific members of the press, who have reported receiving threats from Trump supporters. “Fake news” has become a go-to defense for everyone from state and local officials to authoritarian leaders around the world.
Not every major news outlet took part in the coordinated response to Trump’s anti-press campaign. The Los Angeles Times, which has previously called out the president’s “war on journalism,” did not participate so as not to “leave the impression that we take our lead from others, or that we engage in groupthink.”
“The president himself already treats the media as a cabal — ‘enemies of the people,’ he has called us, suggesting over and over that we’re in cahoots to do damage to the country,” Nicholas Goldberg, editor of the Los Angeles Times’ editorial pages, wrote Thursday. “The idea of joining together to protest him seems almost to encourage that kind of conspiracy thinking by the president and his loyalists. Why give them ammunition to scream about ‘collusion’?”
True to form, Trump did, in fact, tweet out an attack against the Globe Thursday morning in which he said the paper was “in COLLUSION” with other media outlets.
The president added that he supports “true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS,” but claimed outlets are “pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people.”
“HONESTY WINS!” he tweeted.
But, as the Globe pointed out in its editorial, Trump has made thousands of false and misleading claims over the course of his presidency so far — and he is “asking his audiences to follow him into Fantasia.”
“The press is necessary to a free society because it does not implicitly trust leaders — from the local planning board to the White House,” the Globe wrote. “And it’s not a coincidence that this president — whose financial affairs are murky and whose suspicious pattern of behavior triggered his own Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate him — has tried so hard to intimidate journalists who provide independent scrutiny.”