Donald Trump Attack On Our Free Press Is An Attack On A Cornerstone Of Our Democracy
Freedom of the press is an essential element of our democracy, so much so that it is spelled out very clearly in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Freedom of the press holds our government accountable, exposes corruption, and offers our citizens the best opportunity at achieving transparency among our leaders and institutions. While some may point to the many incidences of egregious abuses and corruption that have historically been exposed by our free press as stains on our republic, they may conversely view them as our democracy and freedoms afforded by our Constitution working as they should to right wrongs.
Donald Trump as a candidate, nominee, and as President Elect has ceaselessly villainized the press and has gone out of his way in an unprecedented manner to foster distrust of the media. His adversarial relationship with the media escalated to an unprecedented level today in his first press conference as President Elect (his first since July, 2016), 9 days before his inauguration, as he attacked and shut down CNN’s Jim Acosta. He not only silenced him and refused to answer his questions, he attacked the long standing and respected news organization he reports for, stating “You are fake news!”
Such a tone and actions of the imminent POTUS for the next four years, should be very troubling to the citizens of the United States. Dictatorship and autocracies have historically begun with suppression of the press through demonization, marginalization, and intimidation. Our Founding Fathers were brilliant in their insistence that an unobstructed free press is an essential component to democracy. As such, President Elect Donald Trump’s actions are a direct attack on the fabric of our democracy.
The Trump campaign and the Trump transition team has adopted a strategy of attacking the press as unfairly biased against him or outright illegitimate when stories surface that reflect negatively on him. Rather than answer questions about these stories, they instead attack, deflect, and quickly change the narrative with the intention of turning the tables and putting the media on the defensive.
The administration of President Donald Trump cannot be allowed to behave in this manner with impunity. The press must remain steadfast in holding him to account and our citizens must not remain silent when he threatens one of the core institutions of our democracy.