News

Editorial: Your friend, not enemy

Unprecedented attacks on the media hit the very protectors of our democracy

Could anyone have imagined the day would come when it was necessary to rally support for a free press in order to protect one of our most fundamental freedoms from attack by the President of the United States?

Yet that is the reality we, our fellow journalists and the nation face today from a President who has declared the press the "enemy of the people" and whipped up his supporters to physically and verbally threaten reporters going about their jobs.

The President is waging an open war on the press, broadly accusing it of making up stories and publishing "fake disgusting news." He repeatedly attempts to intimidate reporters, including inciting his own supporters to follow his example and taunt the press at his public events.

Today we join in an unprecedented coordinated expression of concern by newspapers across the country to focus public attention on the dangers of the President's attacks. Initiated little more than a week ago by the Boston Globe, hundreds of media organizations large and small are publishing editorials this week to describe in their own words why citizens should be alarmed by the President's relentless hostility to the news media, his attempts to turn citizens against it and the dangers to our democracy.

How vulnerable is press freedom? What does it take to undermine and destroy the credibility of institutions that are built upon trust and integrity and that citizens depend on to hold those in power accountable? Is our democracy sufficiently resilient to weather a President who shows no respect for the importance of a vigorous independent press?

Those are among the questions being asked today by defenders of democracy and all believers in a free society. From the nation's capital to small communities, every news organization is affected when its integrity is so sweepingly and indiscriminately challenged by a President with the power to reach and influence the entire country.

We are fortunate to live in a community that has a deep respect for the work our reporters and editors do and for the role journalists play in serving the public interest. That doesn't mean readers or elected officials agree with everything we write or every position we take in editorials, nor should it.

But professional journalists set out every day to gather the facts, evaluate the credibility of their sources and do everything possible with the resources they have to convey the full context and significance of the news. They are not guided by either their own political agendas or those of their employer. They are working for you.

Newspapers and other media organizations don't want to fight a war with the President of the United States. There will be no winners in such a battle; the ultimate result will be the undermining of two critically important institutions and the rise of extremism, or worse.

Those whose profession it is to report the news fairly and accurately need to be reminding their readers of how integral a free press is to the health of our democracy, including within the smallest of local communities, and how toxic it is when the President intentionally attempts to erode trust in the press.

Newspapers and professional journalism are facing threats on many fronts, including the President's recent imposition of tariffs on the Canadian newsprint used by most U.S. newspapers, which threatens to put many newspapers out of business. Virtually every newspaper is struggling to adapt to steady decreases in advertising revenue and many have closed down, leaving cities larger and smaller than ours with no reliable source of local news.

So what can you, our readers, do to support a free and independent press as envisioned by our founders?

First, think about and talk with others about what our community would be like without newspapers. Redirect those who may legitimately complain about errors or omissions in specific stories to the importance of having a news organization dedicated to informing the public and holding elected officials accountable and the consequences of losing that local institution.

Second, call people out when they invoke the President's language in criticizing local press coverage. "Fake news" is often real news that someone wishes hadn't been published. Stop using the term. Doing so only emboldens the President and furthers his false narrative.

Finally, subscribe to the newspapers you read and value. That financial support will determine the survival of most local news organizations and is the most tangible way to embrace the press freedoms that are under attack. We'd welcome your support, which you can give by clicking on the "Join" tab on our website, DanvilleSanRamon.com.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

45 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 16, 2018 at 7:51 pm

The news media is simply slanted & biased against President Trump and conservative ideas in general. All President Trump is doing is to point out this clearly obvious fact (unless you're a non critical thinking liberal.)


29 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Aug 16, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Blah blah blah, I couldn’t get past the first three paragraphs. Our president may not be very articulate, and may send childish tweets, but he is making America great, safe, and strong again. The press is always against him and exaggerates the truth to fit their narrative. He has never been the first to go after anyone, he only defends himself, and I am surprised that he is not vengeful for all of the hate he gets.


10 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2018 at 6:51 am

Thank you for this thoughtful, objective support for our constitution and the balance of power. Facts are facts and we all—regardless of political bias ought to be mature enough to agree on what those are. We must be able to rely on the press to find and publish facts for our perusal and personal interpretation. That is it’s strength and it is of critical importance in our democracy. Salut!!


10 people like this
Posted by SR resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 17, 2018 at 7:42 am

SR resident is a registered user.

When a major network presents an ex member of the Obama cabinet who the states that the president is guilty of treason, the value of his right to make such erroneous statement is not a matter of free press and the exercise of 1st amendment rights. One cannot be guilty of treason without a declaration of war that defines the enemy. Irresponsible slander is not a guaranteed right, particularly when the opinions voiced are tantamount to a child's rage. If statements must be aired they should be presented for what they are... political opinions, not the facts we expect from our news outlets.


31 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2018 at 8:03 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

There you go again, spreading fake news.

The president never said we shouldn’t have a vigorous independent press.

He says the opposite. We need a vigorous independent press. The problem is, you are not vigorous and independent.

Nearly every newspaper in this country carries the same articles on the same topics every day, written by the same people at AP, Washington Post, NYTimes, etc. all pretending to be balanced, but all peppered with the same biased opinions and narratives masquerading as fact. You are all spreading the same Agenda. You are a giant monolith that squelches dissent.

It’s ironic that you all call for a vigorous and independent press while you all publish the SAME opinion on this same topic in all of the newspapers on the same day.

You are like the man barking out dogma on the giant TV screen to the slaves in Apple’s famous 1984 commercial, that was smashed by the woman flinging a hammer. You deserve that hammer.

Those who stand up to you are courageous and should be commended.

Trust in the press must be earned. Your biased reporting has lost our trust.


13 people like this
Posted by Lincoln
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2018 at 8:07 am

Lincoln is a registered user.

For Trump, "Fake News" = news that he does not like.

I remember another president who decided to make the media his enemy. He was forced to resign so that he wouldn't be impeached and convicted for his crimes.


23 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2018 at 8:16 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

This video shows an innumerable number of television newscasters (including from the Bay Area) expressing the same opinions on this topic, verbatim.

Web Link

It is eerily creepy and disturbing.

It makes one wonder whether 1984 is fiction.


21 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2018 at 8:18 am

Great sales pitch for selling newspapers.
I relied on the "free" but biased press until I realized they LIED to me the reader, I stopped the paper because of that bias.
So the press holds the powerful accountable, Who then holds the press accountable? The first amendment asserts the right of free speech, that is freedom from the government and censorship, but the press has an obligation to the readers to pursue facts and report them, and not become advocates for a point of view....which is the job of the editorial page, it doesn't need any facts, just opinion!


32 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2018 at 8:45 am

One of the problems is that the press no longer reports the news in a professional, journalistic manner. Instead, they dig up dirt or sensationalize every story to SELL what they call news. I have lived in Europe and Asia. In both cases, I experienced a much different and better world view and true journalism. If the U.S. Pass wants respect, they need to earn it.

I am not a blind Trump supporter and and am far from agreement on all of his policies and the manner in which he communicates them. However, when I see that well over 90% of the news stories about him and his presidency are negative, I am highly suspicious about the neutrality of the news. All of this negativity while unemployment rates are at historic lows, the stock market and housing markets are booming, etc. Give me a break. The press should also realize they have a serious credibility problem. Remember al the polls leading up to the election where the press led us to believe he was far behind Hillary and could never win? That turned out to be wishful thinking on their parts rather than truthful reporting.

I am disgusted by our press and glad that other avenues such as twitter exist so people can speak directly to the public rather than having the information filtered through our press. That is truly freedom of speech!!


7 people like this
Posted by Franette Armstrong
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 17, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Thank you for this thoughtful essay on the role of the press in a free society. I fear that those protesting your remarks have been swayed by media outlets who long ago gave up their roles as journalists and became megaphones for the extreme right wing.

We need a more caring and generous society where all people are given the actual truth of real events and not a constant dialogue of commentary. It is so sad that so many people can't tell the difference between the two.


9 people like this
Posted by letsallgetalong
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 19, 2018 at 9:02 pm

letsallgetalong is a registered user.

Just subscribed to the express although I have been reading parts of it for years. Have subscribed to the S.F. Chronicle for 40 years but just went to digital. Supporting the free press is the bedrock of our society, when the press is no longer able to expose wrongdoing in our government & the President is calling all news that is not favorable to him “fake news” As he told Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, Trump revealed off-camera that he said why he attacked the press was to “discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you”.


20 people like this
Posted by Malcolm Hex
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Aug 20, 2018 at 1:06 am

The “free press” the Danville/San Ramon editorial board speak of are influenced by politics, hate and celebrity. The press is tainted with people like NY Times - Sarah Jeong (racist), MSNBC’s - Brian Williams (liar), NY Times Staff Reporter - Jason Blair (liar), CBS 60 Minures - Lara Logan (liar), NY Times Magazine - Michael Finkel (liar), CBS News - Dan Rather (liar), and on and on.

The S/D Editorial Board should call out transgressions committed by there fellow journalists before attacking the President of the United States. Calling Trump out on something is fine; however, the press embellishes what they write or say with words like treason, collusion, obstructing justice, etc. The accusations don’t stop. Is that fair? Where is your proof? It never lets up.

Trump is not perfect, nobody is. However, I have never watched or heard the press act in the way they have since Trump got elected. You want respect? Then start publishing unbiased news - and that goes for both sides of the political spectrum.

Until then, stop crying about how important you are. Respect is a two-way street.



9 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2018 at 5:06 pm

C. R. Mudgeon is a registered user.

The path forward, to ensure a free and independent press, is clear. News outlets just need to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". Unfortunately, many/most news outlets have taken to presenting a highly-filtered version of "the truth". Heavy with editorial content, bias (whether intentional or unintentional), and a lot of self-censoring. It's not so much that the press and news outlets present overt lies, it's more the fact that they choose to not present opposing viewpoints at all, and ignore many newsworthy stories altogether. Essentially a case of "lying by omission". Also, in terms of national and political news reporting, pretty much everyone is simply putting up articles from the AP, the Washington (Amazon) Post, or the NYT, without any independent reporting.

If Bay Area residents get all of their news from local newspapers and the network or local TV news, they are getting a very one-sided and filtered view, possibly without even knowing....


2 people like this
Posted by What
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

The only thing that needs to be brought to awareness is this:

Capitalism is crumbling and Donald Trump represents the fascist impulse riding the destructive shockwave in its collapse. He appeals to voters who sense the emptiness and nihilism of our current economic and social systems and are looking for easy scapegoats and simplistic, self-righteous, chest-thumping solutions.

So, if you voted for him you're a bad person and easily duped.


Like this comment
Posted by What
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

Follow-up:

If you voted for Trump and live in Danville/San Ramon, you're probably also a bloodthirsty baboon-brained Boomer who has somehow lived 70 years in this country without learning a single thing about it.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm

@What:
Re: Your follow up!
The same could be said for those who voted for Jimmy Carter and Barrack Obama.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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