US newspapers to Trump: We’re not enemies of the people

Published 8:22 am Friday, August 17, 2018

NEW YORK — Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” with a coordinated series of editorials in defense of a free press on Thursday — and, not surprisingly, Trump didn’t take it silently.

The campaign was set in motion by an editor at the Boston Globe, which argued in its own editorial that Trump’s label of the media as the enemy of the people “is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”

Trump denounced the effort on Twitter, saying the Globe was in collusion with other newspapers.

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“There is nothing that I would want more for our country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS,” the president typed. “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.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a resolution with no objections stating that “the press is not the enemy of the people.”

Cognizant of heated feelings on the issue, the Globe hired extra security on Thursday, said Jane Bowman, newspaper spokeswoman. “Journalistic outlets have had threats throughout time but it’s the president’s rhetoric that gives us the most concern,” Bowman said.

It was not clear how many newspapers participated. Marjorie Pritchard, the editor who launched the campaign, said earlier in the week that some 350 news organizations indicated they would, but she did not immediately return messages on Thursday. Even with the coordinated effort, there was some significant blowback from newspapers that wrote to say they would not participate.

The Radio Television Digital News Association called on broadcasters and web sites to express support. Since Monday, there have been 2,240 mentions of either “First Amendment” or “free press” by broadcasters across the country, said Dan Shelley, the group’s executive director. One TV station, WPSD in Paducah, Kentucky, showed a copy of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press on its screen before every commercial during newscasts, he said.