In defense of press freedom, 350 US newspapers carry coordinated attack against President Trump

Hundreds of US newspapers devoted print space on Thursday to a coordinated defence of press freedom and a rebuke of President Donald Trump for saying some media organisations are enemies of the American people.

The Boston Globe and the New York Times took part in the push along with more than 350 other newspapers of all sizes including some in states that Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.

The Globe said it coordinated publication among the newspapers and carried details of it on a database on its website.

Each paper ran an editorial, which is usually an unsigned article that reflects the opinion of an editorial board on a particular subject and is separate from the news and other sections in a paper.

The Globe’s editorial accused Trump of carrying out a “sustained assault on the free press”.

“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” the Globe’s editorial said.

“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.”

Trump has frequently criticised journalists and described news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions as fake news.

In February 2017, for example, he tweeted that “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!”

His comments reflect a view held by many conservatives that most newspapers and other news outlets distort, make up or omit facts because of a bias against them.

The New York Times editorial said it is right to criticise the news media for underplaying or overplaying stories or for getting something wrong in a story.

“News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job,” it said.

“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.”

Reuters said a representative for the White House could not immediately be reached for comment on the editorials.

In January, Jeff Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, said Trump had embraced the despotic language of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

THE CABLE

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