Many Presidents Have Had Feuds With The Press, But Trump Is The First To Declare Them The ‘Enemy’
The unflinching and immoral attacks on the freedom of the press, by the President of the United States, threaten our Constitutional freedoms. How did we go from Walter Cronkite being the most trusted man in America to having a sitting president tell the citizens of our nation we have “fake news”?
If this so-called president can treat the constitutionally protected press, and the judiciary for that matter, with utter contempt then who will hold him accountable? The protections granted by the First Amendment are not open for debate. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of the people to assemble and to petition the government… are there for good reason. Those rights prevent unscrupulous men like Oval 45 from destroying our Democratic Republic.
Presidential feuds with the press span our nation’s history. It was comical to hear the President cite Jefferson, Lincoln, and others as haters of the newspapers, the mainstream media of its day. We know 45 isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to history, political philosophy, constitutional law, and other subjects one would expect an American President to be familiar with. So we can figure somebody had to copy and paste those quotes for our non-reading, not like a really smart guy, so-called president to recite like a school boy. It’s just sad that he is ignorant of so much, and that his adoring and equally uneducated masses see that as a favorable quality.
Jefferson and the press: Not Fake News
A person familiar with Thomas Jefferson knows you cannot just take a Jefferson quote and run with it. He was much too nuanced a figure for that. Jefferson must be read in context, and the Jefferson student knows too, that he held many conflicting or changing opinions in his lifetime.
In her 2003 biography, Thomas Jefferson, Joyce Appleby wrote that President Jefferson took the attacks of the press as a badge of honor, she noted, “…but Jefferson took pride in tolerating their “falsehoods, calumnies, and audacities.” Jefferson saw dissent as a sign of a healthy democracy. Our whiner-in-chief should learn a lesson in leadership from President Jefferson.
Another Jefferson biographer, John Meacham, in his 2012 work, Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power, mentions a letter Jefferson wrote to Elbridge Gerry in 1799, the year before Jefferson would win the White House for the first time. Meacham wrote that the letter was Jefferson’s “… testament of political faith.”
I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents…
Thomas Jefferson loved the cacophony and clamor of political dissent, even when it went against him. He would not silence the press, he would present a better argument. POTUS 45 can’t do that. Sad!
Madison and the press: More Real News
First Amendment scholar Vincent Blasi, in a 2004 speech, said James Madison, the Father of the Constitution came “… to believe that freedom of the press is a crucial component in preserving the liberty of individuals from a possibly tyrannous minority.” We know that 45 received about 27 percent of the eligible votes available in this country. We know he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes. Those are not fake numbers or news or stories. They are easily verified facts. More people in this nation voted against 45 or did not vote at all by larger numbers than those that elected him. He does not represent the will of the people. Not even close.
National politics is a grown-up activity, it was never meant for incompetent amateurs or the mentally unhinged. When the President or his propaganda ministers stand before the American people and just make stuff up it is the Constitutional duty of the press, and of the people, to hold them accountable. To do less is un-American.
SCOTUS and the press: Whoop, upside da head!
As a last reminder for Herr Orange on how the Constitution and the Judicial Branch carry equal weight in our government, a word from Justice Hugo Black. This is from the 1971 SCOTUS ruling on what we know as the Pentagon Papers.
The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.
It is obvious that the spotlight of the world stage is too bright for our reality TV president. He is out of his league–bigly. He can’t have his way and the papers and TV shows are mean to him. Boo effing hoo. A free and effective press along with an educated and informed populous can take down a president. Think LBJ and Nixon from recent history. Let’s hope the fourth estate is up to the task. The enemy of the American People is ignorance aligned with fear. And that’s all 45 has offered so far.
Featured Image Courtesy of Pixabay
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