Tag Archives: free press

Actually, Mr. POTUS, it’s all ‘legal’

Donald J. Trump continues to fly off the rails with his ongoing assault on the media.

Here is what he posted this morning on Twitter: A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?

If you can past the mangled syntax of this tweet, I’ll provide a simple explanation of why the president — as usual — is dead wrong.

Mr. President, it’s all “legal.” It’s protected by the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment says the government cannot interfere with what a “free press” reports. It says media freedom shall not be “abridged.”

How in the world do the courts rule on the accuracy of media reports? There is no defamation here. There is no slander. No libel.

I get that the president is uncomfortable with the tone of much of the media coverage.

One more time — but most certainly not the final time: It goes with the territory, Mr. President. The media are on duty to do precisely what they are doing at this moment. They are seeking to hold you and your administration accountable for your actions, your rhetoric and the myriad promises you make.

Hey, POTUS already has his media lapdogs!

Donald J. Trump has expressed a desire for the federal government to create a TV network that would report favorably on his exploits as president of the United States.

It’s a preposterous notion on at least one level: My reading of the U.S. Constitution prohibits such a thing in this country. A “free press” is supposed to operate without government interference or influence.

Trump, though, has expressed envy over the love and kisses heaped on his boyfriend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, by TV anchors in that reclusive nation. Well, that is laughable on its face. Those TV anchors are employed by a murderer — Kim — and they would be killed if they didn’t say what he demanded of them.

Now, as for Trump’s desire for favorable TV coverage, he already has a major cable “news” network in his hip pocket. Fox News — aka Faux News — is chock full of talking heads who suck up to the president daily. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, the trio on “Fox & Friends,” all are loath to say anything critical of Trump. So, they don’t. Plus, the network brings on an array of “contributors,” the vast majority of whom follow the lead of the network’s staff of anchors and correspondents.

Which brings me to my question of the day: Why does Donald Trump want to create a TV network that slobbers all over him when he already has one doing his bidding?

Bizarre.

Mitt takes up cudgel for a ‘free press’

U.S. Sen.-elect Mitt Romney is filling me with hope that he might become a Republican who actually is willing to challenge the nation’s demonizer in chief.

The media, according to Mitt, aren’t the “enemy of the people.” Even a “biased” media, the new senator from Utah writes in an op-ed for USA Today, are essential to the nation.

I agree with him. So do all of Donald J. Trump’s predecessors. So should most of the congressional Republicans who will take office in January along with their Democratic colleagues.

Sen.-elect Romney says categorically that Trump is wrong to vilify the media. He writes: America is indebted as a democratic nation to the free press for truths it has uncovered, for truth it has disseminated, and for falsehoods it has repudiated. The press uncovered the government’s lies about the war in Vietnam; it exposed Watergate; it opened our eyes to the sexual abuse of children by priests; and, most recently, it shed a light on the sexual assault by numerous men in power. The free press dispelled the false conspiracies about the 9/11 attacks, President Obama’s birth, and Joe McCarthy’s lurking communists. The work of a free press is essential.

The president doesn’t see it that way. He says the media that report on issues he deems critical are disseminating “fake news,” which of course is the ultimate irony given his own lying about so many issues, so many individuals. He has defamed seemingly countless public figures with lies.

But I’ll leave it to Mitt Romney and perhaps a few other brave souls in public life to try to hold the president accountable for his continuing attacks on the media.

Donald Trump could not be more wrong. Mitt Romney couldn’t be more correct.

Media still doing their job — even under heavy fire

Ronald Reagan knew it. So did Gerald Ford. So does George W. Bush. Same with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush.

They knew that a free press is essential to a thriving democratic system of government. They knew the press, no matter how persistent it is in the pursuit of making government accountable, was integral to the maintenance of a free society.

Why, then, is these men’s successor, Donald John Trump, at war with the media? He has yanked the press credentials of CNN’s chief White House reporter, Jim Acosta. The president is threatening to confiscate the passes of other White House scribes.

He calls the media the “enemy of the people.” He acts like an autocrat. Trump wants the media to report only what he deems to be “favorable” to his agenda. He calls all other reportage to be “fake news,” which is a monstrously unfair characterization of the reporting they do. I usually equate “fake news” with circumstances that are made up, fabricated … the kind of lies that, say, suggest that a president isn’t constitutionally qualified to hold the office to which he was elected twice because he was born in Africa.

Trump’s suggestion that “fake news” is conveyed by major news media is the most hideous of the countless lies he has told since becoming a politician in his quest for the presidency.

The president’s ongoing combat with the media is a struggle he cannot win. Nor should he.

After all, the nation’s founders had the right idea by guaranteeing a free press in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including it in the first set of civil liberties attached to the nation’s founding government document.

First Amendment: Why protect the ‘free press’?

Jonathan Capehart writes a column for the Washington Post, which means he’s a dedicated journalist. He also makes a compelling point: It is that the U.S. Constitution protects only one profession from government oppression, intimidation or coercion. It’s a “free press,” Capehart noted today.

Why is that?

Well, it’s because the founders knew something that has been lost on one of their political descendants, the 45th president of the United States. They knew that a free press was an essential element of ensuring that those who run a democratic republic must be held accountable for their actions.

Yet the current president refers to the press as purveyors of “fake news,” and calls them the “enemy of the people.”

How utterly and categorically disgraceful. Donald J. Trump’s abject ignorance of government and the role that a “free press” plays in ensuring that government does the right thing is breathtaking in its scope.

Yet he continues his rampage. He continues to spread lies about the media. He bellows his demagogic rhetoric to the cheers, hoots and hollering in front of crowds that comprise those who make up his political base.

The president needs to understand — even though I know that he won’t — that the founders had it right when they guaranteed a “free press” in the very First Amendment to our Constitution.

Yes, the amendment also covers the right to worship as we please and to protest government policies, to assemble peaceably and to speak freely without fear of retribution.

I need to re-state it once again: the media are the only private industry covered in any of the 27 amendments to the Constitution. Why do you suppose that’s the case? Because the founders knew at the very beginning that the press must remain free of government interference or intimidation.

Listen up, Mr. President.

Fox News: state media outfit?

What’s up with this?

Donald J. Trump reportedly became angry with staffers aboard Air Force One because they were watching CNN on the presidential jet. Why, he insists on them watching Fox News, the president’s news/commentary network of choice.

He continues to lambaste media outlets that report goings on in the manner that they should, with facts and critical analysis. His favorite network, Fox, continues to slobber all over the president’s shoes (figuratively, of course) while offering nothing but “positive” coverage of his every statement and deed.

Anything negative is deemed “fake news.” Amazing, given that the president is the godfather of “fake news,” as he promoted the lie that Barack Obama was not constitutionally qualified to run for president of the United States. It was that “birther” thing, remember?

So, are we to presume that the president is creating a form of de facto state media?

I believe the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says the government must not interfere in any fashion with a “free press” doing its job.

Presidents should understand value of a free press

Presidents have come and gone over the course of our beloved Republic.

Some tenets, though, remain affixed to our national identity. One of them is a free press and the guarantee that government cannot control it.

The video attached to this blog post offers an example of how one president, John F. Kennedy, understood how a free press is vital to guard against the darkness of secrecy. President Kennedy sought to defend the press as it did its job, even when its reporting cast his administration in a negative light.

The Bay of Pigs is an example of how the president likely wanted the press to look the other way. It didn’t. Nor could the president insist out loud and in public that it do that very thing. The Bay of Pigs was a disaster from the get-go. The military operation in April 1961 sought to overthrow the Fidel Castro government in Cuba. It was poorly planned and poorly executed. As JFK said at he time, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

The press reported the failure … as it should have done.

What a change we are seeing in the present day with one of JFK’s successors, Donald J. Trump, who insists that negative coverage is the product of “fake news,” which is a denigration of the men and women who take their jobs at least as seriously as the president takes his.

Trump doesn’t get what damn near all of his predecessors have understood. The press is vital to hold public officials accountable for their actions. Without the media doing their job, the government can do irreparable harm to our cherished Republic.

POTUS declares war on media

It’s been on-going ever since Donald John Trump declared his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

He’s been at war with the media that seek to report the news relevant to his campaign and now, his presidency.

As Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican Party political activist, has noted: Trump now has all but declared Fox News to be the state’s official news medium. Why is that? Because Trump just relishes the network’s obvious bias in his favor.

Other media outlets? They’re all the “enemy of the American people.” The president, with his alarming and frightening petulance toward the rest of the media, has broken with a couple centuries’ worth of tradition involving presidential relationships with a free press.

Consider, too, the words of a longtime public servant who now works as a “contributor” to CNN. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden — the former head of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency — laid it on the line.

Hayden fires back at Trump

Hayden wrote this on Twitter: “Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.”

Think not just of what Gen. Hayden said, but also consider that this man would say it. Michael Hayden served with distinction and honor under presidential administrations of both major political parties.

Hayden was responding to this tweet from Trump: “Fox News is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.”

I get that Trump gored Hayden’s proverbial ox with that ridiculous message. However, I believe Hayden’s description of Trump’s view of the media is correct. He is conducting an “outrageous assault on truth, a free press” and, yes, on the First Amendment.

This individual, the president of the United States, is a disgrace to the high office he occupies.

‘W’: Free press is ‘indispensable to democracy’

Maybe you remember the bumper stickers with President George W. Bush’s face on them, with the caption: Do you miss him?

The message was meant as a dig at President Barack H. Obama.

Well, I didn’t miss him then. I do miss him now that a new president is in charge … and who’s decided to wage open war against the media.

President Bush said on “Today” that a free and strong media are “indispensable to democracy.”

Trump doesn’t grasp the notion that the media play a critical role in assuring that public officials — even the president of the United States — always stay on the straight and narrow.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. … Power can be very addictive,” he told NBC’s “Today.” Do you think?

George W. Bush is among a handful of men who have held those reins of power. He did so for two terms. While his record is a mixed one, he always seemed to comprehend the limits inherent in the power of the presidency.

Two presidents later, we have a guy in the White House who is trying to manipulate the media in ways most of never have seen. He seeks to shut out major media organizations from press briefings; he seeks to curry favor with “friendly reporters”; he blasts reporters and organizations openly for being “dishonest” and purveyors of what he calls “fake news.”

The First Amendment guarantees a “free press.” It prohibits the government from interfering in the media’s effort to do their duty.

Trump doesn’t get it. President Bush does get it. “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account,” “W” said.

Do I miss the 43rd president?

Yes. I do.

Afflicting the comfortable no longer in vogue?

There’s a saying that a free press’s key mission is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

At the risk of sounding like a whiny baby who never got invited to one of these gigs, allow me now to say that the Washington Correspondents Dinner is a disgrace to the high-minded mission that the D.C. press corps is supposed to fulfill.

Check out this essay about what’s become of this annual event:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/white-house-correspondents-dinner-117287.html?ml=po#.VT2bCFJ0yt8

There’s something more than mildly offensive about seeing reporters and their dates parading along a red carpet, a la the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and the ESPYs.

Those of us who toiled out here in the Heartland — aka Flyover Country — always have thought there ought to be a natural tension between the power brokers and those who cover them, reporting on their dealings to the “unwashed masses” who depend on journalists to tell them the truth.

Here’s how Patrick Gavin describes the event that occurred over the weekend: “What started off decades ago as a stately formal celebration of the best of presidential reporting has morphed into a four-day orgy of everything people outside the Beltway hate about life inside the Beltway—now it’s not just one night of clubby backslapping, carousing and drinking between the press and the powerful, it’s four full days of signature cocktails and inside jokes that just underscore how out of step the Washington elite is with the rest of the country. It’s not us (journalists) versus them (government officials); it’s us (Washington) versus them (the rest of America).”

Boy, howdy. I couldn’t have said it better.

The D.C. press corps has become something of an echo chamber, where journalists parrot each other’s views and simply cannot wait to be seen in the company of the famous and the powerful. In their own minds, that seems to fit the description of the people who cover government.

I loved Gavin’s note that unlike some of the other dinners — such as the Gridiron — where presidents occasionally are absent, POTUS’s attendance at the correspondents dinner seems to be required. Gavin writes:  “The last president to skip it was Ronald Reagan in 1981 and — let’s cut him some slack — he bailed because he had just been shot.”

The press’s mission to afflict the comfortable now seems almost quaint. How can it do so when the comfortable include the very journalists who keep slapping the backs and yukking it up with the folks they are sent to cover?

I much prefer the tension that is supposed to exist between the media and the government. It keeps everyone — reporters and their sources — a little more honest.