Without the Press, There is No America

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a journalist.

I published my own newsletter at 12. I worked for the local chamber of commerce at 15 on the paper. I was a member of the journalism club and interned for the LA Times. My life ultimately took a different path, but my respect for the fourth estate never waned. American leadership’s respect for the press, unfortunately, has also taken a different path.

Trump’s attacks on the press endanger them while endangering our democracy too. Trump is poisoning the electorate against the press—a pillar of democratic governance. Without the press, informed consent of the governed is impossible. Democracy is impossible. Truth becomes malleable. And the people become powerless.

“Enemy of the people”; “a stain on America”; a “son of a bitch,” and “fake news.” Endorsing a candidate who assaulted a reporter. Threatening to revoke licenses from critical media outlets & “opening up” libel laws. Trump is mimicking intimidation tactics from dictatorships.

Myanmar called reports on its mass atrocities “fake news.” Dictators feel emboldened to jail or kill journalists. The Philippines has one of the highest rates of journalists being murdered in the world, and Trump laughed with Duarte about journalists being spies.

If I had kids who wanted to be journalists, I’d encourage them. The press is a foundational necessity of American philosophy. This rant is not partisan. Republicans should care about the republic. Democrats should care about democracy. We should—and must—agree on this and work to protect the press from Trump’s authoritarian attacks.

The alternative is much worse.