Reporters Face Undemocratic Tactics Since Trump Sworn In
There has always been a healthy mix of tug-and-pull from those who govern and those who have a duty to report the facts about government. The robust nature of this relationship goes all the way back to the early days of this nation.
The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure. –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.
So it is most troubling to have read this past week the news of six journalists being charged with felony rioting after they were arrested for doing their job!
The reporters were covering the protests that took place just blocks from Trump’s inauguration parade. This news is simply beyond the pale and needs to be denounced. Press freedom in this nation is not to be taken lightly, even though too many have no understanding as to why reporters matter more to our democracy than those who wear military uniforms.
When the government can arrest reporters covering a story it can also end the amount of information the citizenry must have to access the actions of those we have elected. It is chilling to those who understand.
We are only one week into this most troubling era in our nation’s history and already Trump has spoken of a “running war” with the media. Yesterday his chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon, ratcheted up the attacks on the media, arguing news organizations had been “humiliated” by the election outcome and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.
The white authoritarian governing mentality is on full display. It is vile and only missing the brown shirts for its full effect.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” Bannon told the New York Times’s Michael Grynbaum. And also, “I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
It is stunning to read those words from Bannon and know the nation was started with the hopes of Jefferson.
Many members of the media correctly believe the Trump White House is untruthful and disingenuous, pointing to its baseless claims about the size of his inauguration crowd and millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election. There is every legitimate reason for reporters to press for answers and not allow any governing party to twist the facts and distort logic.
Press freedom and the respect of journalists has long been one of my foundations. The reasons are many–and seem to grow daily–as why that foundation needs to be a focus of my readers, too.