'Not the enemy': More than 350 newsrooms in the US have banded together to push back against Trump's war on the media

  • More than 350 newspapers in the US published editorials condemning Donald Trump’s attacks on the media.
  • The President often berates journalists and news outlets that publish unfavorable stories about him as “fake news.”
  • Trump pushed back on the campaign on Thursday morning, saying: “Fake news media is the opposition party.”

Hundreds of newspapers across the US have banded together to push back against Donald Trump’s attacks on journalists, whom he has often attacked as “fake news” and “an enemy of the people.”

Newsrooms ranging in size and political spectrum this week on Thursday published editorials arguing that the president’s frequent assaults on the media were unjustified and that journalists were “not the enemy.”

The list of participating newsrooms totaled more than 350 as of Thursday morning, according to the Boston Globe, which launched the initiative. You can see a full list of the newsrooms here.

The Boston Globe wrote in its Wednesday editorial:

“Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people.’

“This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president, much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd.”

The opinions of newsroom editorial boards are typically separate from their news coverage. The Globe, for example, noted earlier this year that its opinion pages “are completely separate from the news operation,” and that the editors of its opinion pages and newsroom “do not coordinate decisions on coverage.”

Trump appeared to acknowledge the campaign on Thursday morning, saying in a series of tweets that the “fake news media is the opposition party” and accusing journalists of “pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people.”

The newsrooms’ editorials come two weeks after an Ipsos poll found that almost a third of Americans agreed with the sentence: “The news media is the enemy of the American people.”

The poll, which surveyed 1,003 adults across the political spectrum, found specifically that 48% of Republicans agreed with that statement, versus 12% of Democrats .

The same poll found that 43% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats said the president “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behaviour.”

Another poll from Quinnipiac University, which sampled 1,175 US voters in August, found that 51% of Republican voters said they view the news media as “enemy of the people,” compared to just 36% who said it is “an important part of democracy.”

That trend has deepened under Trump, who has routinely berated newspapers and journalists who published unflattering news about him as “fake news,” both on Twitter and in speeches.

The Globe wrote on Wednesday: “It’s not a coincidence that this president – whose financial affairs are murky and whose suspicious pattern of behaviour triggered his own Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate him – has tried so hard to intimidate journalists who provide independent scrutiny.”

In late July, the president told a rally not to believe media coverage of his administration. Defending his trade policies, he told a crowd of veterans in Kansas City: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”

Some newsrooms have refused to join the Globe’s campaign, however, and even argued that the venture compromises the freedom and independence the newsrooms are calling for.

The Wall Street Journal declined to participate. James Freeman, the assistant editor of its editorial page, wrote: “The First Amendment does not say that the government cannot criticise the press. Mr. Trump enjoys free speech just as his media adversaries do.”

He added: “If the Globe’s effort is actually not intended to broaden its audience but instead to energize those who already oppose the President, this again may be a strategy more suited to politics than to journalism.”

The Baltimore Sun, which also declined to join, said: “While we agree that labelling journalists the ‘enemy of the American people’ and journalism ‘fake news’ is not only damaging to our industry but destructive to our democracy, a coordinated response from independent – dare we say ‘mainstream’ – news organisations feeds a narrative that we’re somehow aligned against this Republican president.”

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