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Carl Bernstein: Democracy Challenged By Attacks On Free Press

February 20, 2017

It goes without saying that a free press is a vital component to democracy.   Freedom of  the press and free speech along with a free and unfettered vote are the foundati0ons of democracy.   Authoritarian figures like Donald Trump pose a danger to democratic institutions.   That has been evident in just one month of Trump’s administration.

The attack on the free press by Trump is noted for the way it fits a pattern with other chapters in history.  One can rightly claim that Trump is an ignorant man.  He may not understand what he is doing.  But it also can be said with accurateness that Trump is using a tactic of Stalin and Hitler when it comes to undermining democratic institutions.

This week on Reliable Sources Carl Bernstein was asked what impact Trump’s anti-press attacks are actually having on the nation.

BERNSTEIN: I think it’s working in the sense of playing to his base and further dividing the country. Is it working in terms of also scaring the hell out of a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill who think that he is off on a ride that is dangerous to American democracy and are they quaking? Many of them, without speaking out, yes.

We are into terrible authoritarian tendencies that we are seeing in the new president of the United States. We’ve never seen in an American president such open authoritarian moves and rhetoric. This is a terrible time we’re living in.

And the press — look, when the press was reporting on Hillary Clinton server and the Clinton Foundation, the same people who he is now calling enemies of the American people, Donald Trump thought we were patriots. So, the hypocrisy of this aside from the lies that underlie the president’s words.

We are doing our job. That is what we’re there to do. We need to find out all of what this president is doing. What his administration is doing — nothing more, nothing less. And that’s what we’re doing. We are not enemies of the American people. In fact, we’re the last  resort of the American people to a dictatorial and authoritarian inclined president.   

Look, Trump is an enemy of the truth. That is what we know from his presidency thus far. He’s not interested in the truth. He’s not interested in the best attainable version of the truth, which is what real journalism and reporting is. He’s not interested in a fact-based debate. What we are seeing already are actions at intimidating the press, which means the people lose and intimidating those in the American government who talk to the press.

We need to be, all of us, focus on attacks on the First Amendment, on the Constitution, free press and how it reaches the people, especially when we have an authoritarian president who seems not to understand the Constitution. Nixon understood the Constitution. This president does not.
We already, as in the Nixon years are watching Trump initiate a leak investigation of draconian threats, it’s already under way. That is the threat to the American people. We don’t need, the press, to be self-centered about attacks on us. 

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