This month’s article may seem somewhat redundant to some of the articles in the past.
We will once again trumpet the need for a free and vibrant press and our fears that the current
occupant of the White House wishes to do away with an unfettered First Amendment. We
fear that our message will run stale, as will the constant need for the national press to point
out the faux pas, misstatements, lies, and intentional inaccuracies of the current
Right now there is an all out war by this President and his cadre of yes men and
women, on the press and therefore, on the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press. The
President has labeled the press as the number 1 enemy of this country. By all accounts,
approximately 40% of the people who follow and agree with the President agree with this
assessment. Others are not fans of the press, while others just don’t care. Yet, but for a
vibrant press and the freedoms that they enjoy, with this current President, we would quickly
sink into a dictatorship and the great experiment that has been the United States of America
would die, being a little over two centuries old.
To some of you this may be hyperbole and exaggeration. Yet, history teaches us that
is not the case. All of the great dictators that have lived on this earth have either destroyed
or harnessed the press. Donald Trump wishes to do both. He gives out accolades to the
media that he likes, that report him in a positive light and pats them on the head. He insults
and attacks those that have the audacity to challenge him, to ask him the tough questions, and
to point out where he is accurate. He brands them as fake news if they do not agree with
him, yet never pointing out where that news was fake. He uses mass rallies to surround
himself with those that live and breath his firebrand politics and uses them as examples of
how much he is beloved.
He came to power by using the press. He was barely a blip on the radar screen when
he began his campaign. But by using incendiary remarks, insulting John McCain, Mexicans,
women, the handicapped and everybody else, the money-arm of the press could not keep him
off of the nightly news and reveled in their new-found audiences. By the time he became a
serious candidate, the snowball had been rolling down the hill so long that it could not be
stopped. The media started calling him on his craziness, his bigotry, his antics and his lack
of knowledge of the facts. This, of course, was to no avail as he had become a cult leader,
and cult followers do not care about the truth.
Now that he is President, he seeks to dismantle the press. He seeks to be, through his
Twitter and his rallies, the only voice that the American people hear. His assault on the First
Amendment and Freedom of the Press, is unlike anything that this country has ever gone
through before. Sure, Nixon had his enemies list. But even he was not bold enough to call
the press, the media, the conscious of the country, the number one enemy of the country.
There is little doubt that Donald Trump will be gone in either 4 or 8 years, or maybe
sometime in between. Even he will not have the power to stay on longer than those 8 years.
But unfortunately, if we, the American people, do not back the press, the press, whether we
like them or not, then the next holder of the highest office in the land will reign over a
country that is a mere shadow of what it was.
In our own right, we have had run-ins with the press. We have been misquoted and
mischaracterized. We have read stories that we have given interviews for, that seem that the
reporter was talking to somebody else, not us. The press is not infallible. The press makes
mistakes. But it is the essence of the First Amendment that the press be allowed to make
mistakes and be fallible. It is the essence of the First Amendment that they be allowed to
speak and to write and to be corrected on their mistakes. But it is the antitheses of the First
Amendment that they not be allowed to speak, that they not be allowed to write and that the
occupier of the White House should challenge their right to do so.
These are troubling times. Our President cares more about his ego than he does the
well being of the country. President Kennedy said it best, “Ask not what your Country can
do for you, ask what you can do for your Country”. The best that we can do for our Country
is to protect the First Amendment and champion a free press. If not, it will be “not what your
Country can do for you” but rather “what your government can do to you”.