Oregon newspapers participated in a coordinated campaign to publish editorials today defending a free press and decrying President Trump’s persistent attacks about fake news.
Organized by the Boston Globe, more than 300 publications, ranging from The New York Times to small community newspapers, communicated to their readers in response to what the Globe’s editors call “the dirty war against the free press.”
The Oregonian editorial urged “Rising above the toxic rhetoric.” The Portland Tribune wrote, “We aren’t fake news; we are the people.” The Register Guard titled its editorial, “Trump shouldn’t expect media to be his friends.” The Bend Bulletin carried a commentary from the Chicago Tribune that said, “[Trump’s] attacks on journalists exemplify his tendency to bully and humiliate.”
“To be sure, the hostile verbal attacks and the insipid ‘fake news’ name-calling coming out of Washington, DC have reached unprecedented lows,” wrote Laura Gunderson of The Oregonian. “Yet attempts to silence the press with bullying and lies is by no means unprecedented. These attacks come from all political levels, all political stripes.”
The Portland Tribune editorial, adapted from comments by the New York Press Association, said, “We’ve been complacent. We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and our communities and that all this talk about us being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is.”
“But the reckless attacks have continued, instigated and encouraged by our president. The time has come for us to stand up to the bullying. The role journalism plays in our free society is too crucial to allow this degradation to continue.”
The Tribune editorial spelled out local news beats its reporters and photojournalists cover, adding:
“At the Tribune, we pride ourselves on prioritizing news that citizens, and voters, need to know in a healthy democracy – vital public policies rather than ‘gotchas’ and juicy gossip that would boost our readership and web hits. We dissect and explain crucial issues that affect your neighborhood and your world, such as homelessness, gentrification and climate change.
“We are always by your side. We shop the same stores, worship at the same places and hike the same trails. We struggle with daycare and worry about paying for retirement.”
“Reporters and editors have a keen appreciation for the power of words and would feel a cold wind if a President described any group of Americans as ‘enemies of the people.’ Editorialized the Register Guard. “A President who feels free to describe the media in that way can easily add other enemies to the list. It is a responsibility of a free press to call upon President Trump to stop employing such destructive language. He should not expect the media to be his friends and should recognize instead that their true loyalty is to good government and the values of the republic.”
The Bend Bulletin’s repurposed editorial concludes, “We aren’t enemies of the American people. But many of us have fielded enough angry threats – in the streets, on our phones and at our computers – to chafe when a President calls us that. That’s why we’re adding our voices to those of other journalists nationwide.”
The Boston Globe said, “We are not the enemy of the people. We are a free and independent press; it is one of most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution.”