|Diana Washington Valdez|
Monday, August 20, 2018
President Trump's war against news media is threat to democracy: Diana Washington Valdez
President Donald Trump’s assault on the news media via his Twitter account and in public speeches is more than a war of words.
It is an attempt to discredit an institution that stands alone whenever the federal separation of powers appears to be imperiled.
His offensive missives also serve as an indirect invitation for those who are persuaded by his rhetoric to attack news media outlets without setting the limits for such attacks.
In a particularly disturbing Aug. 5 Twitter message, the president characterizes established news media as “fake news,” calls it “the enemy of the people,” accuses it of causing division and wars, and describes it as “dangerous” and “sick.”
The Boston Globe, a respected national daily, has decided to fight back by speaking out against the presidential abuse of power. The Boston Globe also called on other news outlets to publish their own editorials reflecting concerns about the constant unwarranted assaults on the U.S. news media.
Throughout our modern history, the news media has played an important and independent role in American politics.
Ed Murrow, a veteran CBS journalist, took on the greatly feared U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy, who led the infamous Red Scare. At first, McCarthy accused political rivals of being Communists, and later he extended the smear campaign to others, destroying countless Americans who were blacklisted and branded traitors.
Murrow risked his career and reputation when he used his media platform, in 1954, to confront the senator head on.
The Washington Post, through its unrelenting reporting of the Watergate scandal, led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. Back then, Nixon, too, waged a war against the news media.
Our region witnessed unprecedented collaboration by journalists following the 1976 car-bombing murder of Arizona Republic journalist Don Bolles. Nearly 40 journalists continued Bolles’ work after his death by exposing and publishing accounts of corruption in Arizona.
The El Paso Times, according to historians, helped disband the Ku Klux Klan chapter that existed in the city in the 1920s by exposing the KKK membership of prominent El Paso residents.
The Fourth Estate, as the news media is known, provides a critical barrier between the public and the abuses of anti-democratic officials.
The Boston Globe is to be commended for asking for solidarity within a competitive industry. There is a time to compete and there is a time to come together to safeguard the public’s right to know what its officials are up to.
Unlike in Mexico and other countries, we might not have many violent attacks against the press here. Yet, the June 28 mass shooting that killed five people at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., should serve as a reminder of the potential for harm that exists, especially in a nation with easy access to firearms.
News media outlets are composed of people who live and work in our communities. They work hard, sometimes in battlefield conditions covering wars, and contribute daily to the well-being of the nation. Their profession is not without risk.
Readers rely on media professionals for accurate news and information, a feat that is much more difficult than what is required to produce unfounded conspiracy theories parading as news in cyberspace.
An attack on the U.S. news media is an attack on all of us. It is also a threat to our democracy. Let us stand together and stand behind the facts.
Diana Washington Valdez is a former El Paso Times reporter and a recipient of the UTEP Communication Department Hicks-Middagh Award for Excellence by an outstanding alumnus.
Donald Trump Crisis in Donald Trump's presidency extends across the nation and beyond Diana Washington Valdez/The Digie Zone C...