The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution this week condemning attacks on news media as hundreds of newspapers — led by the Boston Globe — published editorials speaking up for a free press and against President Donald Trump’s attacks on journalists as enemies of the people.
The Hartford Courant, Meriden Record-Journal, The Day of New London and Darien Times were among the Connecticut newspapers that published editorials on Thursday in response to the Boston Globe’s call for a national, coordinated effort to raise objections to Trump’s characterization of news media critical of him as “fake news.”
“It is the president who withers in the sunshine of open information. In response to the facts, the president resorts to name calling and stigmatization, bringing discourse to the level of the playground,” wrote the Record-Journal. “Thus journalists are called ‘the enemy of the people.’ Thus news the president finds ill suited to the preciousness of his ego is called ‘fake news.’ Unable to carry on in the light, the president attempts to drag us all into a dark labyrinth where rules don’t apply and some vacant concept of winning seems attainable. This is the playground of ‘alternative facts.’ But news organizations do not play in that dark playground. They perform in the light, and as such they are not the ‘enemy of the people’ but precisely the opposite.”
The Senate resolution introduced by Democrats Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Chuck Schumer of New York, affirms that “the press is not the enemy of the people,” reaffirms the “vital and indispensable role the free press serves,” and condemns attacks on the free press and efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as a whole as “an attack on our democratic institutions.”
“Every senator upheld that oath by sending a message that we support the First Amendment, and we support the freedom of the press in the face of these attacks,” Schatz said. “As Thomas Jefferson put it, ‘our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost’.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal also took credit for introducing the resolution to reaffirm the Senate’s commitment to the First Amendment.
“The press’s dogged pursuit of the truth — uncovering and reporting facts, exposing wrongdoing, and holding public officials accountable — has never been more important. When we look back at these extraordinary times, I strongly believe that our free press will be recognized as heroes — and I’m proud to stand with them today,” he said.
Schatz said that the resolution comes as President Trump and White House officials continue to attack journalists and news organizations.
“Every member of Congress has sworn to uphold the Constitution, including the right to the free press. This bill is an opportunity for us to uphold our oath and make clear that we support liberty and free speech,” he said.
Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning to respond to the newspaper editorials in three tweets:
• THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country … BUT WE ARE WINNING!
• The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!
• There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!!
Meanwhile, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spoke at the National Press Club this week where he rejected Trump’s characterization of the press as the “enemy of the people” but said journalists need to look at themselves as critically as they look at the Trump administration. He claimed that 80 to 90 percent of coverage of the Trump administration is negative.
“That should give news organizations pause,” and to ask, “Are we doing our job?” he said.
Spicer said he was concerned about safety of journalists but also “the safety of others.”
“Wear a Donald Trump shirt on the Metro, see how long you last,” Spicer said. He referred to situations both he and current press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have encountered. “If you walk down the street with a Donald Trump or Republican T-shirt, you get mocked, yelled at — where’s the concern for that? I don’t feel the press has the same concern about others as they have about themselves.”