The entire Senate affirms that the free press is not the 'enemy of the people,' a stinging rebuke to Trump's dangerous and authoritarian rhetoric about the media.
The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday condemning “attacks on the institution of the free press,” and affirming that “the press is not the enemy of the people.”
The resolution, introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), didn’t use the words “president” or “Trump” — but it was clearly a targeted rebuke of Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric attacking the free press and the First Amendment.
Even after five newspaper employees were murdered in Annapolis, Trump refused to soften his attacks on journalists. He repeatedly calls the media the “enemy of the people” in official White House statements released via Twitter.
In passing this new resolution, the Senate declared that it officially “views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as an attack on the democratic institutions of the United States.”
The resolution included quotes on the importance of press freedom from founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison — and also from Ronald Reagan, who once declared an official Freedom of the Press Day.
Mentioning Reagan may have helped convince Republican senators to sign on to the resolution by assuring them that it wasn’t just a partisan attack on Trump. It also served to remind Trump that he is failing to uphold what should be basic values held by Republicans and Democrats alike.
On the same day the Senate adopted the resolution, more than 300 newspaper editorial boards wrote editorials condemning Trump’s dangerous attacks on the institution of journalism.
In typical fashion, Trump quickly lashed out at these newspapers, once again dusting off his typical “FAKE NEWS” and “OPPOSITION PARTY” attacks on the press.
He also specifically called out the Boston Globe, the newspaper that spearheaded the effort to defend journalism.
As senators and journalists stand up for a free press, it is also important to recognize that the press is not the only group Trump viciously attacks — and that smearing the media isn’t the only way Trump violates constitutional and democratic norms.
For instance, Trump routinely attacks marginalized groups based on factors like their religion, race, gender, and disability.
Trump began his campaign by calling Mexicans “criminals and rapists.” He insulted a Muslim Gold Star family, mocked a disabled reporter, and used racist language to attack immigrants from around the world — including calling all the nations of Africa and Haiti “shithole countries.”
He promised to ban all Muslims from entering the United States — a promise he partially fulfilled after taking office.
Trump has also used his bully pulpit for other anti-First Amendment attacks, like smearing black athletes who protest racial injustice by respectfully kneeling during the National Anthem.
Trump’s attacks on the press are, as the Senate noted, attacks on America’s democratic institutions.
But they are also just as dangerous as Trump’s attacks on specific groups of Americans.
Published with permission of The American Independent.