Letters to the Editor

Trump’s attacks on a free press endanger democracy itself

President Donald Trump calls on members of the press during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump calls on members of the press during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The Associated Press

President Donald Trump has declared “war on the media.” They are “crooked,” “total losers” and “among the most dishonest beings on earth,” he claims.

It’s not the first time a president has fought with journalists; freedom of speech was also under siege during Richard Nixon’s presidency. The relationship between the media and politicians must be adversarial, otherwise media reporting is merely propaganda.

But Trump’s attacks are unprecedented. Now isn’t the time to demean the media when “alternative facts” circulate as truth. Just last month, Trump issued falsehoods about voter fraud, inauguration crowd size, torture and taking Iraq oil.

Now, more than ever, we must hold the media accountable, supporting them in their honest effort to report the truth, while at the same time practicing skepticism by fact-checking information on nonpartisan sites like Politifact and Factcheck. The public must never again be sucked into maligning the press, booing and shouting obscenities at them, as they shamefully did at Trump rallies.

When Trump disparages the media, and when his adviser, Steve Bannon, says the media is the “opposition party” who should “keep their mouth shut,” be very afraid. Silencing a free press can quickly turn a democracy into a dictatorship.

Beryl Bennett, Morro Bay

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