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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Letter to the editor: The early target of tyrants is a free press

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, March 02, 2017 05:01 am
During the past week,  Donald Trump has blustered (without proof or even specific examples) about “fake news” from major national media and has called the mainstream media the “enemy of the American people.” His chief adviser, Steve Bannon, has called the media “the opposition party.” And the White House on Friday banned CNN, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and several other news organizations from a scheduled media briefing. This kind of war on legitimate and credible news sources should send a shiver down the spine of every single American. It is a strategy designed to undermine the public’s faith in the information gathered by these professional news organizations, and to thereby undercut support for the importance of maintaining such news sources. Already, a significant number of Trump supporters distrust the traditional media (which operate under longstanding journalistic ethics), while being willing to believe spurious, unsourced information they read on biased news sites or in Trump’s tweets.

Attacks on mainstream news organizations are concerning because a vigorous press/news media is essential to the preservation of a free democracy. Unfettered reporting on world events, and particularly on the actions or inactions of our government officials, is the only real check on government power that we citizens have. This check function is especially important now that we have a president who spouts made-up “facts” that he “heard somewhere” to justify controversial governmental actions. Frequently, he is the one purveying “fake news,” and it is critical that such inaccuracies not go unchallenged.

Throughout the world, it has been shown time and time again that an early target of tyrants is the free press. We may think we are immune to authoritarian rule in the United States, but the Founding Fathers recognized the possibility and enshrined freedom of the press in the First Amendment. We must not let that freedom be eroded in any way by the Trump administration. He must not be allowed to muzzle the voices that fact-check his irresponsible statements and inform us of his administration’s actions.

Margaret Ankenbruck 

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