As 2017 came to an end, I wrote a year-end editorial about Trump’s verbal assault on a free press. This past week, the president’s hateful words contributed to the murder of five journalists in Annapolis.
My prophecy from the past has become the reality of the present. My fear has become fact. The most dangerous person in America is no terrorist, immigrant or child of immigrants. It’s the president of the United States, Donald Trump, kidnapper and now killer.
As we celebrate July 4, under Trump’s watch, journalists are being buried. Only days before this mass shooting, he stood at a rally calling the press ‘an enemy of the people.’ No, we are not. He is.
It is a sad day for America. Thousands of immigrant children are illegally incarcerated in concentration camps. Trump is getting ready to appoint a second Supreme Court justice, one who can potentially roll back decades of progressive advances in equal rights for all.
The challenge today is for America’s free press to remain independent, not supplicant; to print real news, not government Pablum, whether you are the Wilton Manors Gazette or the Capital Gazette. We choose to question authority, not bow down to it.
It’s no coincidence either that the leaders Trump cuddles up to represent ruthless dictatorships that govern their countries with unchecked power. It’s no coincidence, either, that those countries, from North Korea to Russia, do not have a free press. Freedom interferes with self-celebratory fascists.
A free press will never be this president’s friend. He lies, conceals, and hides too much. A free press is supposed to disclose and expose, not celebrate and coronate. Whether we are students or football players, we are not supposed to kneel to presidential power.
Our duty as members of the press is to report on the president, not support him. Fox News may choose to become state-sponsored media, regurgitating White House press releases. We choose not to be a tool of the dictatorship. Most of America’s free press has not.
A newspaper’s task is to report and reveal. Sometimes, a story will celebrate a pride festival. At other times, it will tell you the name of the person who stole from it. You don’t roll over because a charlatan is running rampant in the White House. You run him out. Dissent can be the highest form of patriotism. In this era, with this president in power, it has become so again.
From community weeklies to national cable shows, a free press represents the liberties and rights of America. Every day, every week, our papers protect and preserve freedoms. Trump's White House poisons and perverts them.
Even before he was elected, Donald Trump engaged in a war on the press. Once, here in Palm Beach, a local Sun Sentinel journalist, Mike Mayo, encountered it first-hand, surrounded by a crowd of Trump supporters accosting him with intimidating threats.
Mr. Trump’s cruel and callous attacks on America’s free press have been incessant and for two years now. He has induced violence with his viciousness. Playing to the crowd is more important to him then keeping the peace. As a result, the president’s followers are encouraged to ridicule journalists at his public rallies.
Trump was astute enough to know the media would hate him for his never-ending duplicity. He was a man who lived by lies and now was facing a stronger microscope. Thus, from the outset of his campaign, he devised a plan to undermine the press.
Trump conspiratorially orchestrated, devised and engineered a plan to make the media a tool of scorn and derision. He anticipated his legions would join in his campaign. Remember he could 'shoot someone on 5th Avenue' and would not lose supporters. He was right. His minions were mastered. They have followed him like sheep, and the nation has suffered as a result.
Two years later, Trump has had his way. He created the term ‘fake news,’ something that did not even exist in our lexicon 24 months ago. Today, at every opportunity, Trump derisively mocks the press, demeans our reporters, and scoffs at our work. He has called us an ‘enemy of the people,’ and now journalists have been murdered.
After the bloodbath, Trump released a statement saying how sorry he was. Please, that is hypocrisy in its highest form. Yes, and there were ‘good people’ on both sides of the racist march in Charlottesville. As far as I am concerned, it was Trump who primed the pump. He might as well have loaded the gun. Lock him up. Take America back.