More than 80 First Amendment-related groups have signed on to a statement directed toward President Trump that is part press freedom lecture, part defense of journalism, all designed to denounce the president’s continued attacks on the media.
It starts, fittingly, with a quote from Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s concurring opinion in New York Times Co. v. United States, the 1971 Supreme Court case regarding the Nixon administration’s attempt to block The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers. The case was decided in favor of the Times and the Post, and the quote chosen from Black’s concurring opinion centers on the idea that freedom from government censorship is encoded within the idea of a free press. “The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government,” he wrote.
What follows is a list of, as the statement puts it, “efforts of the President and his administration to demonize and marginalize the media and to undermine their ability to inform the public,” from the pre-inaugration presser in which he refused to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, telling him he was “fake news” in the process, to the president calling a number of outlets “the enemy of the American People” in a tweet.
“In these and other examples,” the statement reads, “the President and his designees have attempted to villainize and discredit the press for any reporting he dislikes. However, the job of the press is not to please the President but to inform the public, a function that is essential to democracy.”
The statement links the practice of journalism to the preservation of democracy, stating, “The effort to delegitimize the press undermines democracy, and officials who challenge the value of an independent press or question its legitimacy betray the country’s most cherished values and undercut one of its most significant strengths.”
Among the organizations who have signed on to the statement are the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Society of News Editors, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the National Press Foundation, the Online News Association and Reporters Without Borders.
You can read it in its entirety here.