TOM WARD - ‘Enemies of the people’ is just Trump nonsense

TOM WARD - ‘Enemies of the people’ is just Trump nonsense

Well, it’s the week The Boston Globe asks me to write an editorial against President Donald Trump and his ‘‘dirty war against the free press,’’ according to Globe deputy managing editor for the editorial page Marjorie Pritchard. She writes, ‘‘We are not the enemy of the people” and calls out Trump for his use of the term “fake news.”

Not that I have to answer to the overlords at The Globe & Red Sox, but I think there’s more to this than Trump’s bombast. Maybe he’s just looking for a little even-handedness, something that’s getting pretty hard to find anywhere outside Fox News, which provides counter-bias on his behalf.

There is a lot of hand wringing on the left about this, with some trotting out predictable and way-out-of-context Hitler quotes. Meanwhile, Trump nominates conservatives to the Supreme Court, men who will defend the First Amendment with vigor. That Amendment, the first of our Bill of Rights, states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Some of us hope the Court will eventually take up left-wing academia’s limits to free speech on American college campuses.)

On the specific issue of Trump calling some press members (CNN’s Jim Acosta leads the parade) “enemies of the people,” Trump is wrong, and out of line. He should never use that term. First, because it’s not true, and second, because it could inflame crazies to act.

He should, however, ignore Acosta. He’s never going to get a fair hearing on policy questions from him. CNN should replace him, but won’t, which leads Trump’s supporters to wonder where CNN is on the bias-meter. Trump does have the right to limit access to him by his detractors, much as candidate Barack Obama did in 2008 on his campaign plane. Still, Trump needs to end his “enemies of the people” narrative that incites people at his political rallies. It could become dangerous.

“Fake news” charges drive journalists crazy because the vast majority of reporters – especially at the state and local level – try very hard to report hometown events and ideas accurately. We do here, too. We may not be perfect, but our reporters work diligently and report truthfully.

Contrast that to social media, which is pure opinion, or writings from those who may have a bias, or are selling you something but may not be honest about it. Readers with little time to unearth the truth should cast a wary eye on Facebook postings. Facebook and Twitter make money on both the wheat and the chaff, on cute babies and “fake news” from very biased political sources, including Trump. So beware!

(By the way, this is a good spot for a refresher course to readers on “stories” and “editorials” or “opinion columns” in newspapers. Stories may never contain opinion. Columns can, and do. That’s why columns and editorials like this are labeled, along with letters to the editor. Those are opinion, and may include the opinion – the bias – of the writer. News stories, however, may never contain the opinions of the news reporter.)

The bottom line is this: Journalists are not “enemies of the people,” and Trump is wrong to use provocative language like that. We have been given the right to write without interference from government by our Creator and the Founding Fathers and documents. Trump can’t change that, but he can undermine it.

Most journalists across the United States do honorable work day in and day out, and the “fake news” narrative on national media bias is filtering down to the state and local level. For that, Trump is to blame.

I’m pretty sure that The Boston Globe doesn’t want me to write that on Trump policy, I remain generally supportive. I support “jobs for all” more than “Medicare for all,” and am happy for the booming economy that Republican policy has created. On rhetoric, though, I’d ask him to knock off his “enemies of the people” crap. It’s ridiculous, and indefensible.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze.

Comments

Kudos for taking a stand...it is the right thing to do. A suggestion and a correction: you might advocate for Republican policy rather than a Trump policy. Also, your statement that republican policy created the booming economy is inaccurate...per senior economists... "Trump inherited an economy that had come a long way toward healing. During his administration, the economy has continued growing at about the same rate it did before he took office, pushing incomes, employment and output to yet higher levels."

Just saying...

Tom, when you write "Some of us hope the Court will eventually take up left-wing academia’s limits to free speech on American college campuses." Do you mean public college campuses? Should private colleges be able to do what they want under the law? I agree if you mean public colleges, and any time that free speech is stopped by a government institution, there should be push-back. But a private entity doesn't appear to be bound by the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, sure I think they should. But if we're talking about courts getting involved, I'm guessing you mean public colleges.

I too compliment you for taking a stand. However, I believe President Trump's attacks on the media do have a totalitarian bent. I'll be turning 65 in a couple of months and I don't recall such anger in this country since the late sixties.

I recently read Dan Rather's (2017) book What Unites Us where he referenced the fact of the end of the media Fairness Doctrine in 1987. For those not familiar with it, the Fairness Doctrine mandated that all public media outlets were required by law to present both sides or more on an issue.

Maybe we would all be better off if the Fairness Doctrine was reinstated!

I really get a kick out of people who view this in anyway other than an embarrassment. President Obama had many faults but I was never embarrassed that he represented the US, when Obama saluted the Marine One marine with a cup of coffee in his hand I thought Fox News was going to explode. Trump was absolutely correct when he stated he could shot someone in the middle of fifth avenue and not lose support.

As for the economic policy, I always thought that a conservative agenda was to save money these tax cuts will balloon the deficit to 21 trillion as Trump has stated previously he is the king of dept. Enjoy the ride there is an old saying in accounting "you can't postpone and defer for ever"

How come Trump is constantly using the term Fake News. All news is fake other than what Trump and Fox News says is real.....

One last point remember when President Obama was criticized for playing to much golf, I heard a figure I could be incorrect that in the 8yrs President Obama was in office the government spent 88 million on travel in 6 month that Trump took office it had reached 24 million I guess camp david is to shabby for him.....Oh I forgot his vacations are working vacations

Hi, Bob:
I have to disagree on your assertion that the Obama Administration set the table for today's booming economy. Nonsense! Yes, he did a reasonable job (along with the Fed) in the first two years, when the country was flat on it's back after the housing collapse. But 6 more years of 2% GNP growth doesn't cut it. Not here.
"Senior economists" all told us the world would end and stock market crash if Trump were elected.
One was Nobel winner, economist, and NY Times columnist and blogger Paul Krugman, who famously stated on election night:
"It really does look like 'President Donald Trump' and markets are plunging. If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is 'never'," Krugman wrote.
The Republicans and Trump passed a large corporate tax cut, and repatriated hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas. That money is now available for new jobs, dividend increases, and new construction in the U.S. Obama never even considered this.
Trump overturned many of the Obama executive orders that slowed fossil fuel production. Many good paying jobs have been created, and the US is now the world's leading producer (or very close). These are just two of my "top of mind" thoughts, ideas which President Obama was opposed to.
Where do we agree: The scope of the tax cuts and spending increases. The deficits will go higher. Where is Republican spending conservatism? Nowhere. I'm disappointed.
And I do worry about the tariffs, though I'm delighted that President Trump is the first-ever president to push back again Chinese theft of our intellectual property. Nobody else had the courage. Not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama. I'm glad somebody is finally saying it, and I don't fear the consequences.
Best, Tom Ward

Obama never considered it?

https://qz.com/337422/everything-you-need-to-know-about-obamas-offshore-...

"Let’s make a deal, says the lame-duck president: In a one-time charge, all foreign earnings of US corporations will be taxed at just 14%, with the money going toward a $478-billion program for infrastructure investments around the country (a trade-off some Republican leaders have supported, at least rhetorically). After that, foreign earnings will be taxed at a 19% rate, a 45% tax cut from the current statutory rate."

Thank you, breezedog. I wasn't aware of that proposal a year before President Obama left office. TW