The first amendment to the U.S. constitution rightfully states that every individual or organization shall have a freedom of speech. Indeed, one may argue, the growth of the United States in the past century has been an indirect result of exercising the first amendment. Freedom of speech has been at the forefront of every great movement – from the women’s rights movement to the anti-Vietnam war protests. The President of the United States, Donald Trump has been on a joyride with his searing attack on the free press. In return, they have decided to fight back on his defamation of the press – by publishing editorials that reinstate the importance of free speech in American society and the world.
Trump has, for over a year now, attacked the free press – labeling them as ‘Fake News’ and the ‘Enemy of the People’. As various media outlets report news based on the inefficiency of the Trump administration, his rhetoric of the news media being biased against him has hit a nerve with his supporters. In a recent poll, more than 51% of Republicans have simply stated that they don’t believe the mainstream news media anymore. Such a large number of people not believing what’s being reported is quite scary enough. In addition to this, Trump has been quick to attack any person who has dared to speak against him. The latest incident occurred, when he revoked the security clearance of John Brennan, a CIA high ranking official, for speaking out against him.
In response to these attacks, more than 350 news outlets have launched a campaign to counter the President’s vilification of the press. The campaign was initiated by the Boston Globe, which denounced Trump’s ‘dirty war’ against the media by promoting the hashtag #EnemyOfNone. Along with major US national newspapers and smaller local outlets joining the campaign, international news outlets like the BBC and Guardian have also joined in on the fight. The message is simple – fight back against the President for defamation of journalists and journalism across the U.S.
Such scathing attacks on the media raises the risk of violence against journalists, experts at UN have mentioned. Recent reports have mentioned Trump supporters attacking CNN news anchors at his rally. Moreover, the journalistic integrity that most journalists adhere to has been morally questioned by the leader of the free world. His support and love for the alt-right media like Breitbart and propaganda spreading web hosts like Alex Jones have also brought into question his dividing line between what’s fact and fiction. News reports praising him instantly becomes ‘Real news’, while news reporting the fact, his failures, become ‘Fake news’.
So, while the media fights back against Trump, the real question is – will it have any influence on the conservative heartlands? The answer is – probably not. But nonetheless, it’s always the job of journalists to report what’s right and what’s wrong, irrespective of the results. While the New York Times decided on the headline “A Free Press Needs You”, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “If the press is not free from reprisal, punishment or suspicion for unpopular views or information, neither is the country. Neither are its people.”