In a thriving, living democracy, the press does not merely exist as a mouth piece for those in power. The press provides balance, holding up a mirror to the country and asking question to ensure that the democracy lives on. The problem these days in the US is that certain elected officials believe that the press should be there just to be a mouthpiece. Any media organization or reporter who says otherwise is labelled as “enemy off the people”.
For the last 17 years, David E. McCraw has been the Deputy General Counsel at the New York Times. Last month, his new book, Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts was published. In the book, Mr. McCraw describes how his legal expertise was used to advise reporters and editors on news stories that might rattle some cages. He also describes how the current Presidential administration has done everything they can, short of illegally throwing journalists in jail, to stop the Times from printing certain articles.
While the New York Times is not my favorite newspaper, I admire the journalists who fight daily for our rights to free press. Written openly and candidly, this book is for those who believe in the American democracy and are willing to fight for it.
I recommend it.
The cornerstone of any thriving democracy is freedom of the press. When this freedom is severely curtailed or taken away, that is a sure of sign of a dictatorship.
Last week, The White House revoked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. Today a judge reinstated it on the basis that revoking the press pass infringed on Mr. Acosta’s First Amendment rights. Standing behind Mr. Acosta was not just CNN, but other media outlets, including Fox News.
How long before the man-child who unfortunately bears the title of President Of The United States take a tantrum on Twitter?
Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows that I completely disagree with anything and everything that comes from Fox News. However in this case, I have to applaud whomever made the decision to stand up for freedom of the press. When this essential freedom is denied to one, it is denied to all. We can disagree from here to eternity about who is right and who is wrong when it comes to politics. I have no issue with that, the ability to disagree but still live with one another is what makes America a great country. But when it comes to our basic freedoms, if we don’t stand up for them, they could disappear and we would never know it.
When the head of government refers to the press as “enemy of the people”, he or she is usually not a democratically elected leader. They have somehow elbowed into their way into a position of power and in doing so, have pushed aside the norms and rules of political leadership.
Marvin Kalb’s new book, Enemy of the People: Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy, compares the Presidency and administration of you know who to the Red Scare and McCarthyism led by Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950’s. In the book, Mr. Kalb lays out in detail how Joseph McCarthy politically hijacked American politics in the 1950’s and how eerily similar it is to the current administration. He also lays out how Edward R. Murrow saw through McCarthy and understood how important it was to reveal the truth to the American public. In short, Mr. Kalb lays out the reasons why freedoms of the press and other freedoms should not be curbed to satisfy the political cravings of one man.
This book should be read by every American, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum. We have taken our Democracy for granted. If nothing else, the current resident of The White House is a reminder of how fragile Democracy really is and how important it is for every citizen to get involved.
I absolutely recommend it.
As children, many of us learned the following statement:
Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
While the ideal of this statement is admirable, the reality is that words have the power to hurt even more than a physical blow.
Over the last few days, you know who has been disparaging the press at a rate that is becoming frightening.
Inspiring by the barrage of tweets and speeches claiming that the press is the “enemy of the people”, Robert Chain called The Boston Globe newsroom fourteen times, threatening violence and murder. Thankfully, Mr. Chain was arrested before he could do actual physical harm to the newspaper’s employees.
All Presidents have a love/hate relationship with the press. However, most Presidents (with the exception of you know who) understand how vitally important it is for a living, thriving democracy to have news media that is not under the thumb of the government. If you know who had his way, only news media that complements him and his world view would be allowed to exist.
What is becoming increasingly scary to me is that there are far too many people in this country who don’t see what is happening. If we, as a nation, don’t step and stand up for our country and our Democracy, I fear that the America that our Founding Fathers dreamed, worked and died for will become a thing of the past.
Freedom of the press is the corner-stone of any legitimate democracy. It is also one of the first freedoms to be curtailed or removed completely when a dictator or an autocrat comes into power.
On Thursday, a gunman killed five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the news reports, the accused gunman held a grudge against the newspaper. In 2011, the gunman, Jarrod Ramos was accused of stalking a former high school classmate. As any newsroom would do, they reported the story for their readers.
While this story again brings up the issue of gun control and mental health, I think the bigger issue is the question of the security of freedom of the press. It’s not exactly a secret that you know who openly disdains and criticizes the press with the exception of a few newspapers or channels that cater to his views.
While the accused certainly has blood on his hands, I have to wonder if the open war on the press is in a small way, partly to blame for the murders of five innocent people.
America is supposed to be land of the free, home of the brave. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are one of the corners of our country, both culturally and legally.
One of the news items that has not been on the front page (but should be) is that the Department of Homeland Security is compiling a list of journalists and so-called “media influencers”.
While it is unknown what will be done to the individuals and organizations whose names appear on the list, the thought that this is happening in the United States of America in 2018 sends a chill down my spine.
Suppression of the free press is not something that happens in the United States. Suppression of the free press happens in countries like Iran and North Korea.
If this is not a sign that you know who and his minions are shredding the standards of American democracy to meet their own needs, I don’t know what is.
I only know that we still have the right to vote and we should all be using that right come the fall. If we don’t, the democracy that is the United States of America may soon be no more.