President Trump has called the mainstream press, including the NY Times, Washington Post and CNN, “fake news” and has asserted they are the “enemy of the American people.”
Historically, the expression “enemy of the people” was associated with the French Revolution to send political enemies to the guillotine after sham trials; Stalin used it to condemn dissidents to be shot or sent to gulags. As did Mao during the Cultural Revolution.
Today, democratic governments shun the use of these words because of their inflammatory connotation. Unchecked, this kind of rhetoric leads to authoritarian regimes that wreak havoc in the world.
A free press is essential for a democracy to survive. It is protected by the First Amendment of our Constitution and has the ultimate responsibility as the Fourth Estate to serve as part of the checks and balances in our system of government.
For the president to delegitimize the press by calling it the “enemy of the people” is untenable and wrong. We must oppose this disturbing attempt by him to quiet his critics in the press through intimidation.
We must defend a free and unfettered press whenever its existence is threatened.
We must allow our journalists to do their investigative work. How else will we as citizens distinguish between the “real truth” and “fake news?”