The Enemy Of The People

By

Leonard Zwelling

This is how President Trump baits the press. He says the press is anti-American. They print “fake news.” They are liars and deceivers and only his friends on Fox have a corner on truth.

How dangerous is this?

Very.

On Nicole Wallace’s MSNBC show, a guest noted that only one industry is protected by the Constitution. It’s the press. Without a free press, there would have been no Watergate, no Iran Contra and no Monica Lewinsky. It is essential for the American people to maintain their freedom that they be informed on all matters of importance, foreign and domestic. That only happens if the press is free to pursue its stories.

What are the dangers in the president’s dissing the press?

People, foolish as it may seem, believe the President of the United States. Even this one. He has his hands on the levers of power. He can free people from jail and can use his police powers to incarcerate them. He has the world’s largest army at his disposal and the bully pulpit from which to spout his lies. He’s a bully who cannot make it through a speech without a prevarication and one of those is that the press is the enemy of the people.

This president also cuddles up to authoritarian figures all over the world from Putin, to Kim to Duterte to Mohammed bin Salam. These are bad guys. They control the press in their countries. Trump wishes he could do the same in this one. Be glad he can’t.

Now is the time for the press to rise up against this president. All the press needs to do is to tell the truth. Keep the cameras rolling. Keep penning the op-eds that tell the truth. Keep the discussions going on talk radio and cable news.

Of all the threats that Donald Trump has made that undermine our democracy, this may be the most threatening of all. It is essential that every news outlet continue to function. They won’t always get it all right. Sometimes, they may get it all wrong. That doesn’t make it fake or mean they are trying to undo democracy.

Truth is elusive. It is hard to pin down. As we saw in the Senate, exactly what happened to Christine Blassey Ford at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh is pretty hard to discern. That truth still eludes us. But it may not elude us forever if the free press continues to dig into the background of the new Associate Justice in a fashion the White House prevented the FBI from doing.

The press is not the enemy of the people. It’s the best friend the people have. Even in the age of social media when what is true and what is rumor is becoming ever harder to sort out, we are still better off with a free press than we would ever be without one.

So when Mr. Trump says the press is the enemy of the people, not only is he wrong, but the press will report what he says accurately. Without fear.

The First Amendment still stands.

Leonard Zwelling