#IVITEB – I’m voting in this election because…
#8 – Attacks on the Press Injure U.S. Democracy
I’m voting in this election because… as an enemy of the free press, Donald Trump is the enemy of our democratic republic and the people.
Yesterday, once again, Trump called the legitimate news media “enemies of the people.”
Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Trump has been calling news outlets, their editors and reporters enemies of the people since before the 2016 election. By June that year, he had already incorporated the line into his standard campaign bloviations and banned nearly a dozen news organizations from his events because, he said, they didn’t cover him “fairly,” by which he meant they didn’t deliver “positive press” that flattered him.
Trump continues to vilify the press. Now, in the final run-up to the election, the attacks come daily. And when he’s not calling members of the press our enemies, his lackeys are:
Vilifying the Press: A Tactic of Tyrants
For the United States of America, use of “enemies of the people” should be a huge red flag waving wildly over our amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties.
It’s a tactic of tyrants, part of a larger strategy to confuse the citizenry and make people doubt their own perceptions and judgment so they’re easier to manipulate. Historically, as noted by Marvin Kalb, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it’s been one of the first actions of despots.
“Twentieth-century dictators – notably, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—had all denounced their critics, especially the press, as ‘enemies of the people,’” Kalb wrote. “Their goal was to delegitimize the work of the press as ‘fake news’ and create confusion in the public mind about what’s real and what isn’t; what can be trusted and what can’t be.”
Clearly, Trump’s goal has been, and remains, the same. He’s also adopted “fake news,” a favorite phrase of Hitler and his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and it wasn’t long before the term “alternative facts” made its first appearance.
However, there is no such thing as fake news. News, by definition, encompasses only real information that can be verified, tested, proved. It is not public relations spin or commentary from a bunch of entertainers pretending to be newspeople, no matter how badly Fox News* wants us to believe they are the real thing.
Along the same lines, alternative facts do not exist. Something either is a fact or it is not. Only terribly twisted logic allows something that contradicts a fact to itself be a fact. That’s why we have the word “opinion.”
The Press is for Us
This is, to say the least, dangerous to people and democracy. Even a quick study of the histories of tyrants, their nations and the peoples they controlled makes that abundantly clear.
Yet a majority of U.S. citizens stand by and allow this delegitimization of people and institutions that provide us bona fide news.
To be clear, it’s OK to question the press and hold reporters, editors and news organizations responsible for their work, but is not OK to call them our enemies. They are not. In fact, without them our republic would not have survived as long as it has.
There’s a reason the press is also called The Fourth Estate in the USA. It’s because people who gather and report news constitute a fourth, stabilizing leg on the table of checks and balances that holds the three branches of government accountable.
So, yes, I’m voting in this election because…
Trump is the true enemy of the American people. Every time he attacks our free press, he draws blood from our democracy.
Joe Biden, meanwhile, respects the press, the nation and the people. I believe he will begin healing our wounds.
Be sure to read the other posts in the #IVITEB series:
#1 – The Climate Crisis
#2 – Women’s Rights
#3 – Criminal Justice Reform
#4 – I Am a Progressive
#5 – Guns Are Killing U.S.
#6 – Workers’ Rights & Protections
#7 – Voting IS Our Duty
#9 – Not Better Off. Not By a Long Shot.
IV Words is funded by the author and generous sponsors. To keep the posts coming, please donate to the blog through Buy Me a Coffee. Thank you!
Photo by The Creative Exchange via Unsplash