More than 300 news outlets have launched a campaign to counter President Donald Trump's attacks and promote a free press.
Trump has targeted the media with criticism and accusations since early on in his presidential campaign, with those attacks continuing — and sometimes escalating — since he became president. At a rally in August, Trump described the press covering the event as, "fake, fake disgusting news." Trump has made fun of the media by announcing a "fake news awards.” He’s also threatened to enact new libel laws and frequently attacked news outlets via Twitter.
The project was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe, who wrote: "This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences. We asked editorial boards from around the country – liberal and conservative, large and small — to join us today to address this fundamental threat in their own words."
The Boston Globe made the call last week for a nationwide denouncement of the president's "dirty war" against the media, using the hashtag #EnemyOfNone.
Mr. Trump has derided media reports as "fake news" and attacked journalists as "enemies of the people". UN experts have said this raises the risk of violence against journalists.
The Boston Globe had pledged to write an editorial "on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press" on 16 August and asked others to do the same.
The initial positive response from 100 news organisations has grown closer to 350 with major US national newspapers and smaller local outlets answering the call, along with international publications like the UK newspaper The Guardian.
Earlier this month, CNN's Jim Acosta urged White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to say the news media are not the enemy, which she would not do.
Thirty-one journalists in the U.S. have been attacked so far in 2018, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. In June, five employees were killed in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md. A man with a longstanding grudge has been charged with multiple counts of murder.
According to the Washington Post, which calculated in May that the president had made more than 3,200 false or misleading claims during his first 497 days in office, and could reach 10,000 at the end of his term if he keeps up his current pace.
However, not every news outlet was on board. The Wall Street Journal, with a conservative editorial board, published an article that was critical of the initiative, suggesting the president has a right to free speech and that newspapers have been “colluding.” Jack Shafer, the senior media writer at Politico, wrote that the coordinated effort “is sure to backfire.”
“It will provide Trump with circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him,” Shafer wrote. “When the editorials roll off the press on Thursday, all singing from the same script, Trump will reap enough fresh material to whale on the media for at least a month.”
Trump isn’t alone in being unhappy with the press. A Gallup/Knight Foundation survey published in June found that U.S. adults estimate that 62% of the news they consume is biased and that 44% is inaccurate.
Our assessment is that the primary debate is the concern of the media that those not supporting the policies of the current US administration are labelled an “enemy of the people”. We feel the proclivity to insist that truths you don't like are "fake news" is dangerous to the lifeblood of any democracy.