Uniting our voices in defense of a free press

It appears we were ahead of the game.

On Aug. 5 The Day published an editorial expressing concern about President Trump’s attacks on a free and independent press, which plays a fundamental role in providing a check on governmental power, as intended by the framers of the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

Subsequent to the publication of that editorial, the Boston Globe called on editorial boards at newspapers across the country to deliver, each in our own words, a unified message on Aug. 16 about the dangers of the administration's assault on the press. Roughly 200 responded.

Though having recently commented on the topic, The Day thought it important to include its voice in this effort.

President Trump apparently sees it as a tactical advantage to dismiss all reporting that does not reflect favorably on his administration as “fake news.” Only information coming from the president or news and social media sites he deems worthy is acceptable.

Such an approach sows the seeds of tyranny. The king is above reproach. Only reporting receiving the royal seal of approval is suitable. All else is fake and condemnable. While the constitutional protections constructed by the Founders and our strong institutions are in place to prevent these seeds from taking root, it was unpresidential for Trump to have ever planted them and not in keeping with his oath to “preserve … the Constitution of the United States.”

As we previously noted, this does not mean the press is beyond presidential criticism and condemnation. Presidents have always pushed back against reporting they considered distorted or slanted, or that simply got it wrong. An adversarial relationship between the chief executive and the press is what the authors of the Bill of Rights anticipated when they prohibited the passage of any law “abridging the freedom … of the press.”

But that normal and healthy give and take is far different from Trump’s broad dismissal of reporting he doesn’t like as “fake, fake, disgusting news.”

Most alarming is Trump’s characterization of the news media as the “enemy of the people.” This characterization is highly offensive and invites violence against reporters trying to do their jobs informing the American people.

The president should stop it.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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