INSIDERNJ EDITORIAL: We Stand Against Craven Attacks by Trump and for the Free Press

This is not a personal exercise.

The responsibility of the Fourth Estate, in fact, necessitates a cold eye. It also requires a touch of humanity as it pertains to the common good. This is the vital atmosphere we seek – or that the discipline demands we seek – in our imperfect form of communion called democracy.

Part of democracy’s maintenance depends on those in government and those who write and report on government establishing trust with the public. It’s an independent endeavor, but undertaken with a tacit agreement of bettering the whole. Our goal is to give the citizens greater access and greater intelligence on substance so they can make better and more informed decisions about their franchise. After all, said Jefferson, “The only security of all is in a free press.”

President Donald Trump’s false premise of “fake news” aims to undermine freedom of thought, debate and democratic principles, the hallmarks of a despot. His behavior is dangerous and puts at risk not just the reputations but, most importantly, the lives of honest, hard-working journalists.

Now politics by definition derives from polis or people, and so inevitably gets personal.

But our greater dedication, whether it be in the media or in government, demands that we rise above the personal, remain conscious of that enduring goal of truth, and act according to a code of conduct. Civility is not a sign of weakness, as Kennedy said, but precisely that extraordinary – and fragile – privilege afforded by the sacrifices of our forbearers.

It gives us not the space to plot out rude and senseless personal attacks, and the freedom to abuse the common square with small spasms of self, but rather another enormous chance – even in our moments near despair amid the worst teetering of our social condition – to once again peaceably engage and reconnect to a nobler path.

Vital to the civil instrumentation of our republic, newspapers and what they stand for at their best are bigger than individual reporters, just as what the presidency symbolizes supersedes Mr. Trump.

This President did not singlehandedly make routinely personal and profane what should be an independent but finally common cause of gravitas, but his ongoing attack on the media – his tweet fits at CNN and The New York Times among others, in addition to nullifying the solemnity of his own elected position, can only ultimately add to the world’s rancor, insecurity and ugliness, and instead of appealing to the better angels of our nature as Lincoln once urged, further diminish the sacred trust of E Pluribus Unum.

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  • Henry

    I hope there will be an admonishment on the ugly and personal attacks on President Trump by the likes of Cory Booker and Gov. Murphy as well as others. They can disagree with the President on an issue, however, they usually end up being just a nasty diatribe against the President. Let’s have some balance please!

  • Thom Ammirato

    It would be very helpful if the media chose to be less partisan and more factually correct. Most of the media is woefully out of touch with the majority of hard working Americans – the people who do the work in the unglamorous jobs, who pay their taxes and keep on paying – yet find themselves on the wrong end of media attacks on their culture, their “privilege” and their values. And they rarely if ever find a media that is sympathetic to the taxes they pay to support all manner of programs that they DO NOT benefit from. It seems the media is more concerned about the rights of illegal immigrants or the rants of AntiFa than they are about the people who make America Great. If it is a fair and honest national dialogue you seek, the media need to do a far better job presenting an honest, even handed evaluation of how America works and who is doing their job and who is looking to capitalize on the hard work of others. Until then, a huge number of Americans will continue to reject the validity of a media that is too often self righteous, misguided in its reporting or crusading for many of the things the majority of people find abhorrent.

    • trblmkr

      Where, oh where are these “media attacks” on “the majority of Hard working Americans?” If “a huge number of Americans will continue to reject the validity” of the media what will they employ in its place? Alex Jones?

      • Thom Ammirato

        the so called mainstream media fails repeatedly, and has so for years, to reflect the beliefs, lifestyle and struggles of the middle class – which is why the public gives so little credibility to the media . Give me examples of media vehemently opposing taxes on the middle class – or raises for public sector union employees, or opposes taxpayer aid to illegal immigrants, An ignorant media that talks about white privilege as if it were a real thing and discounts the hard work of people who make the state and nation operate has very little validity with many Americans. A media that unquestionably supports more money for schools, when in fact NJ is paying more than most other state, has no credibility. A media that continually sides with the left on nearly every issue, has given away its pretense to even handed journalism – hence it has squandered its franchise on the altar of its allegiance to the far left – yet remains blind to its own biases and transgressions.

        • trblmkr

          I think you are commingling reporting and editorializing. You’re basically against any media source that doesn’t agree with your version of reality in its op-ed pages. Perfectly within your rights to disagree but hardly a “transgression” on their part.

          • Thom Ammirato

            When I was reporter, opinion was left out of “news” articles. There was a wall between objective reporting and opinion. Today, there is no wall and reporters are brazenly permitted to repeatedly show their bias — in their writing and in their comments on social media. How can you expect to get objectivity from a reporter who repeatedly tweets negative comments about the president or Republicans, gun owners, white people, or middle class America? you can’t. Editors are just as guilty, allowing critical buzz words to creep into every article. Look, you will find them. Finally, bias is found not just in what the media reports and how it reports it, but even more so in what they ignore and then choose to write or report on. We see that often and prevalently in reporting on immigration issues and on business reporting by the non- business press. Stories that news organizations choose NOT to run reveal their bias as much as what they write or broadcast.Do does the people they choose to quote and those they do not.

    • Gregory Norkis

      Maybe you are reading the wrong media, I stay with Main Stream and NEVER have seen that!

      • Thom Ammirato

        You aren’t paying attention then

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