On Friday night, Donald Trump tweeted, once again, about his disdain for the media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
My twitter feed filled soon after with cases of journalists who are not the enemy. Journalist Lauren Wolfe pointed out countries, such as Russia, Burma and Venezuela where the media has been declared enemies of the state.
For speaking out, speaking up, speaking the truth, Wolfe was soon targeted.
— Lauren Wolfe (@Wolfe321) February 18, 2017
In addition to seeing the faces of the journalists who have died doing their job, Phil Williams tweeted a powerful photograph from the Newseum.
— Phil Williams (@NC5PhilWilliams) February 18, 2017
At the 2014 Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) International Press Freedom Awards, Sandra Mims Rowe, CPJ’s chairman of the board said, “Those who are threatened by information believe that silencing journalists will prevent the global community from knowing what’s happening inside a given country.”
Columnist Bret Stephens spoke at the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture this week about intellectual integrity in the age of Donald Trump.
When you work at The Wall Street Journal, the coins of the realm are truth and trust – the latter flowing exclusively from the former. When you read a story in the Journal, you do so with the assurance that immense reportorial and editorial effort has been expended to ensure that what you read is factual.
Not probably factual. Not partially factual. Not alternatively factual. I mean fundamentally, comprehensively and exclusively factual. And therefore trustworthy.
This is how we operate. This is how Danny operated. This is how he died, losing his life in an effort to nail down a story.
We were supposed to be different. Freedom of the press was so important to a working democracy, it was placed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. But our president believes I am his enemy and an enemy to the American people.
Like Stephens said, we have a responsibility to separate truth from falsehood. It doesn’t matter if it’s a local person or the president of the United States. It is unethical to do otherwise.
If you do not like the facts, that is not the problem of journalism. If you disagree, it is not fake news. If you don’t like a story, it is not your right to demand a journalist be fired.
For the three years I wrote a column at the Star-Herald. There was usually someone yelling for me to be fired for what I wrote. They did not like what I wrote and thought I should not be allowed write anything non-conservative in a conservative community. They could not refute the facts I presented and, instead, turned to Ad hominem attacks.
If the president, or anyone else, accuses a media company as being fake news, ask yourself, why?
When the White House tries to delegitimize a media organization by calling it fake news and propping up those who the president favors and who will make him look good, you are watching propaganda in action.
Instead of saying a paper is too liberal and not objective all the time then having a conversation about the issue, they become fake news and a failing paper. Repeat it often enough and people will believe it without checking.
People want to believe. They want to believe the person they vote for isn’t a vile human being who has the ability to destroy the country they love. So they rationalize his actions, scrutinize his words, look for some kind of meaning to assure themselves they made the right decision.
I have spoke to Republicans in Scottsbluff and Gering who see nothing wrong with a man who freely admits he can “grab women by the pussy” if he wants or walk up to a woman and kiss her simply because he’s rich and can get away with it.
Republicans I know locally rationalize these stories and refuse to admit the person they voted for might not be as he presents himself.
Yet, the media is the one who is the scourge. We are vilified for reporting the truth. If journalists do not present the truth, your news is nothing more than propaganda to make whoever is in power look good.
“We each have our obligations to see what’s in front of one’s noses, whether we’re reporters, columnists, or anything else. This is the essence of intellectual integrity,” Stephens said.
We look at the facts, regardless of opinion. We speak the truth, “irrespective of what it means for our popularity or influence.”
I may disagree with you. But I am not your enemy. Daniel Pearl died for the truth. I hope our country never reaches that point. If we do, will you be there by my side or willfully holding a knife at my throat?