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Jeb Bladine: A growing threat to our democracy

Hundreds of American newspapers, including the News-Register, have joined The Boston Globe this week in a national rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s continuous attack on the American media.

Here’s how The Globe introduced its editorial: “A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘The enemy of the people.’ This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences.”

The newspaper campaign responds to Trump’s spew of memorable quotes: “They are the fake, fake, disgusting news.” “I do hate them, and some of them are such lying, disgusting people.” They are “absolutely disgusting, absolute scum.” “They are the enemy of the people.”

Perhaps even more chilling: “It’s disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they (sic) want to write.”

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

The president’s words have been directed primarily at representatives of national news networks and major newspapers and magazines, which have fueled their accuser’s crusade. It can’t be denied that across the liberal-conservative spectrum, reporting by national news outlets often demonstrates biased levels of political preference.

The media deserves some criticism. But it doesn’t deserve to be subjected to Trump’s brand of threats and degradation. That represents lack of civility dangerously run amok.

Commentary about civility is nothing new. This column, in 2010, noted: “We’ve come to expect rudeness in national politics, where partisan rhetoric shamelessly proves that fundraising is more important than problem-solving … That kind of contempt oozes downhill. For too many people, name-calling and outrageous allegations are the preferred approach to political or social commentary.”

Little has changed, except for the worse. Some of our president’s highlights have included tweeting about Rosie O’Donnell’s “fat ugly face;” calling Meryl Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood;” urging Robert Pattinson to reject Kristen Stewart because she “cheated on him like a dog and will do it again.”

Who can forget those Mexicans coming to America: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” We remember the opposition senator he calls “Pocahontas” and the “good people” who were “on both sides” of the white supremacist confrontation in Charlottesville.

This week, we join newspapers around the country in a clarion call for Americans to push back against those who would silence a free press rather than tolerate criticism. That hallmark strategy of dictators around the world is a growing threat to our democratic system.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

Rotwang

It's a republic.

Rumpelstilzchen

In a way, Trump is showing himself to be a genius at manipulating his followers.

He hasn’t actually DONE anything to limit the freedom of the press. He doesn’t need to.

The Nazis still needed to arrest and execute people who tuned their radios to the BBC. The border police in the former Communist countries searched travellers’ bags for Western newspapers. China is still trying to censor the internet access of its people.

Not necessary with the Trumpians. They are surrounded by reality-based media, but they are dying of thirst in the middle of a swimming pool because Trump has them convinced the water is poisonous.

The censor’s scissors are in the heads. A free press loses its function if people don’t pay attention. Yes, there is partisanship, and that means you need to listen, weigh arguments and facts, and think. Trump just wants his people to believe, and see everybody else as the enemy.

Don Dix

From the article -- "It can’t be denied that across the liberal-conservative spectrum, reporting by national news outlets often demonstrates biased levels of political preference."

'Often demonstrates biased levels'? Without any particular number-crunching, political bias seems to overwhelm any other influence.

In my opinion, the bias begins and end with DC politics. No matter which side has the majority, the minority is focused on finding flaws and faults at every turn (it's about all they do). When the tide shifts, the former majority follows the same path. Unfortunately, it's always the same faces that get the attention and the press, despite the situation.

The media is not the villain, but proper vetting the words and accusations before publication takes a back seat to the use of sensational headlines to sell the readers. In the case of Senator Warren, it turns out there is no verifiable proof of Native American heritage, but the national headlines were about the argument, not the truth.

Farmers separate the chaff from the seed -- media would be advised to follow the same principal.

Mike

It's a Democratic Republic. For our Democratic Republic to work we need democracy to work and we need the Republic to balance the power between the powerful and the weak. The Free Press is necessary to hold the powerful to account.

Jeb Bladine

We may have to confiscate one of the comments made here. So don't be surprised if some time in the future, you read:

As Rumpelstilzchen once said, "They are surrounded by reality-based media, but they are dying of thirst in the middle of a swimming pool because Trump has them convinced the water is poisonous."

REB

The USA has a Constitutional Federal republic. Not democratic republic

Jeb Bladine

According to USConstitution.net, the United States is “a federal republic and a constitutional representative democracy.”

“Federal” is the basic type of organization; “Republic” indicates a “strong head of state and elected officials representing the people;” “Constitutional” speaks for itself; “representative democracy” means “the people elect representatives to take care of legislative matters.”

Mike

I'm amazed at the desire to eradicate the word democracy from the description of our system of government.

GrizzlyWildcat

Newspapers across the country: "The free press is a critical component to the health of our nation and the function of a democracy, and it is under attack by our own government"
Commentator reaction: mansplain the difference between republic and democracy.
Apathy is the last bastion of privilege.

Don Dix

In a true democracy, majorities always rule -- minorities have no guarantee of protection from the 'tyranny of the majority'. The latest example is Bernie Sanders failure to win the D nomination. Even though he repeatedly won D primaries, Hillary's victory was built around those delegates who are allowed to ignore the will of the voters, better known as 'super delegates'.

Tuvey

I have stopped listening and reading the news as all I ever hear is Trump blasting. I never hear anything good and the bad seems so very trivial. Trump used the wrong tissue or turned his head the wrong way. Ivanka looks tired is Trump abusing her. I feel like I'm reading the Globe or National Enquirer. I know he's ridiculous but he has done good things too. Of course, you won't read about any of them......

tagup

Well....Clearly you're not reading the National Enquirer.... where any negative trump story gets bought and buried....

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