Commentary

Winston-Salem Journal rightfully blasts Trump’s latest assault on a free press

Donald Trump speaking

President Donald Trump

Be sure to check out the lead editorial (“Attack on the free press”) in today’s edition of the Winston-Salem Journal. In it, the Journal editorialists do a fine job of explaining why the Trump White House’s recent ban on CNN reporter Jim Acosta is both wrong and unconstitutional (a position that even Fox News has endorsed). Here’ the conclusion:

No one in America, not even the president, is above the law. Neither is anyone too powerful or important to be held accountable.

Journalists who ask tough questions, and those who report news stories that don’t fit the administration’s line, are not “enemies of the people,” no matter how hard Trump tries to vilify them and whip up hatred of them.

There is, in truth, a fair amount of “fake news” circulating on social media and elsewhere, and it’s tough enough for citizens to sort out what information is valid, well-researched and from a reasonably objective and responsible source. When Trump routinely labels anything that doesn’t follow his script as “fake news,” he’s undermining the free press that is essential to a healthy democracy.

Within a few days of his banning Acosta, Trump loudly — and rudely —attacked three black women members of the White House press corps, saying one is a “loser,” another asked “stupid” questions and the third was asking a “racist” question. That only makes Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ reliance on an obviously doctored videotape portraying an altercation between Acosta and a press aide also makes matters worse. This clumsy and childish tactic is unworthy of any press professional.

Trump’s disregard for the First Amendment and his attacks on the press are not only self-serving, they’re dangerous. They’re reminiscent of banana republic dictators who demand fawning, state-run media and suppress any hint of criticism or tough questions.

We don’t expect that kind of behavior from the president of the United States. And we shouldn’t tolerate it.

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