Enemy of none


In 1690, when English settlers did not yet enjoy the constitutional right to a free press, the Massachusetts Bay Colony governor described the fledgling Publick Occurrences as having “sundry doubtful and untruthful reports.”

To put that in 2018 terms, Benjamin Hall’s upstart colonial newspaper was described as “fake news” because it was not the approved word of the government. The newspaper was banned, and copies of that first issue were gathered up and destroyed.

That courageous first attempt at telling the truth of a tyrannical government would be followed by others, and would ultimately lead to this nation’s founders including protections for a free press in the U.S. Constitution — not as some afterthought, but so important that it was included in the First Amendment.

Today, we join more than 200 newspapers in taking up the cause of what the Boston Globe called President Donald Trump’s “dirty war against the free press.” Trump has described the press as the “enemy of the people,” and his rhetoric has been growing even after five employees of the Capital Gazette were killed in a violent attack, when many journalists, including this newspaper, called for an end to his harmful attacks against free speech and freedom of the press.

Trump has whipped his supporters into a frenzy against the media. People sport “Fight fake news” bumper stickers and post venomous attacks on social media.

At Trump rallies (Why is a sitting president who is not yet campaigning for a second term holding rallies anyway?), members of the media are bullied and chastised. Photographs from a recent event in Tampa, Fla., showed Trump supporters saluting the press with middle fingers, chanting “CNN sucks,” and wearing T shirts that read “[Expletive] the media.”

Unfortunately, the press does provide ammunition to Trump supporters at times — and they latch on like a great white shark feeding on an unsuspecting seal for lunch. ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross is perhaps the poster child for fake news. Ross was fired after airing an incorrect report that it was President Trump who ordered Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russians during the campaign.

It was a terrible lapse that cost Ross his job, as it should.

But the mistake of one journalist is not a license to erase the credibility of every other journalist working hard to get confirmation of things that Trump and others don’t want the public to know. At an Islanders Write forum, “Politics and the Press: Covering the Chaos,” sponsored by The Times earlier this month, Melinda Henneberger of the Kansas City Star told the audience how scary it is for the press to cover Trump: “We could always have conversations. They’d tease you, but were willing to talk. I began talking to a guy recently, and he began screaming, calling, ‘Fake news!’ I honestly became concerned he was going to his truck and get a gun,” she said.

This is where we are at, America. Is this really where we want to be?

On a recent Sunday, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

Trump has convinced his supporters that the press is making up stories about him to put his presidency in a negative light, even though Trump’s own Twitter account is one of the biggest sources of incorrect information on a daily basis.

Enough is enough.

We take our constitutional rights seriously. Sometimes referred to as the Fourth Estate, the press is not part of the three branches of government, but is instead a watchdog. We embrace that important ideal.

Benjamin Franklin put it best in this quote pulled from his writing in the Pennsylvania Gazette:

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved.”

We’re not willing to let that happen. That’s a fact.


  1. No by line on that piece of drivel, mercifully. Oddly enough the MV Times is mostly free of the fake news promulgated by the media; the left leaning is wholly understandable and expected given the environment. Too bad the MV Times felt compelled to be drawn into the hysterical vortex that calls itself the media.

      • The point is simple. If you are going to present yourself as arbiter of attitudes towards the press, you should make sure you arbitrate both sides of the issue, left and right. You mostly do not, preferring to focus exclusively on the President. If you think Trump is nasty, think about what will transpire when the left wing “Jacobins” get their way. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/18/newt-gingrich-democrats-have-no-idea-what-demons-are-unleashing.html

        • There is no left or right to the First Amendment. You’re making it a left/right issue. It just so happens that it is a Republican President who has called all press, “the enemy of the people.” Not sure how anyone finds that acceptable regardless of political preference.

          • That is hyperbolic. Trump has specifically said that not “all” press is fake or the enemy – there are many exceptions. I cannot understand why you as a local and generally truthful newspaper felt impelled to inject yourself into this hysterical national journalistic lynch mob.

          • Which is better, disallowing press from a single event, or repeatedly exhorting your fanatical followers to harm them?

        • hanley– you should watch something other than fox news–
          I am quite happy that George “injected” himself into this issue. It gives me hope than a spoiled man baby can not trample the constitution without a fight. Not everyone drinks the fox kool aid—

        • Hanley– that would be ocasio cortez– my comment is in reply to your post about her (ocasio cortez) banning the press from her campaign event(s).

          While I disagree with that decision, I think it worse to have only news organizations that could care less if you shot someone on 5 th ave, and ban anyone that actually reports what you say, do their job to verify the facts and then tell the American public whether you are lying, making up stories or telling the truth.( I am using the word “you” in the general sense)
          I also absolutely loved it today when Rudy said “the truth is not the truth” .
          I couldn’t help but notice that one was not on fox news–
          Take a chance sometime Hanley, and take a look at the “fake news” — then, since you presumably have my e mail address, let me knoe what you saw that was fake– it would be appreciated.

  2. No one is censoring free press. No one is shutting it down. Many of us are simply saying most of it is liberal and is pre occupied with slamming Trump. Therefore he and others are expressing their opinions. Mentioning fake news is not illegal nor immoral. The press can continue to be a watchdog and citizens are free to hurl criticism of it. What is the problem..?

    • “Pre occupied with slamming Trump?” You just attempted to censor free press by delegitimizing it.

      We have the right and responsibility to criticize the president and for Trump to suppress criticism is unconstitutional … and the methods he’s employed recently is obstruction.

      • New englander can you read carefully. I am not calling for a shutdown of free press but I have a right to be critical of it. So does Trump. Trump is not suppressing criticism in fact he is ushering in more. He has aright to fight back.

        • I read very carefully.

          Trump gives every indication of attempting to suppress criticism. He invites the criticism by his words and actions, I do not recall anything not caused by his efforts … okay, include the complicity of a GOP-led Congress.

          You have the right to criticize but your failure to qualify who or what is the “news” seems deliberate. You are following Trump’s attempt delegitimize the Press, then tap dance around what was your written (written and verbal for Trump) intent. The tactic is transparent and complicit.

  3. Trump has said to Leslie Stahl that he disparages the press so that when they publish unflattering reports about him he can say the reports are fake and people will believe him even when he’s lying, which he usually is. One thing that is clear about Trump is that he lies as often as a two year old whines. And he whines like a two year old. You know Trump is afraid of the truth coming out every time he cries FAKE NEWS. That said, CNN is biased and so is FOX, but FOX doesn’t even pretend not to editorialize every story. It’s funny to watch actually, but scary that so many don’t understand what they’re being fed. Best TV news is PBS. To be informed you must read the best news sources widely: NYTIMES, WAPO, JOURNAL. Also, check FOX and CNN frequently to see why the truly uninformed are repeating obvious biases on their FB page and all over internet comments. If you want to know how the usual conservatives in this paper are going to respond to anything political, simply tune in to channel 64 and you’ll hear it verbatim. Very unoriginal. I believe Rudy said that NOWADAYS truth and opinion are the same. The NOWADAYS part is true for many, especially the President and his followers who can’t think for themselves, but not for most of the press. Thank the Lord for the press. And BTW, not liking a news story does not make it fake, unless you’re Trump or someone who believes his lies. Don’t forget, Trump (and Melania) wanted everyone to believe Obama was not born in this country. Trump is the biggest pusher of Fake News on the planet.

  4. Andrew
    The institutions of the United States are strong and protected by rule of law as outlined in our constitution.
    It is not for lack of trying that trump has failed to shut down selected news outlets.
    He has threatened to revoke cnn’s license, loathes npr, wants to be fund it, and has convinced many of his followers that the media is in fact the enemy of the people. He has undermined the free press– That is a problem. Take Hanley, for instance– he is convinced that mainstream media regularly lies, is out to get trump, and cannot be trusted.
    The irony of this is that an administration full of boldfaced liars has convinced some citizens they are the truth tellers.
    We have “alternative facts”, an unhealthy skepticism of science, and serious questions about what truth means. Just today, a lead attorney for the president of the United States said “the truth is not the truth”
    and fox readers will never see that quote .. That’s a problem.

    • Your link does not support your argument. A reporter was banned for bad behavior but it was made clear that her network could send a different one. You are the one promulgating “alternative news”.

  5. Dondondon. I loathe npr and cnn and msnbc and I would undermine the free press just as you and others undermine Trump. You undermine Christianity many times. Your use of opinions and assertions you take as fact are used to convince you don’t use science when you disavow x and Y chromosomes and say people can be any gender they want and visit whatever bathrooms they want.Postmodernism and deconstruction has rendered truth relative and it can be whatever one wants in universities and yet you lament the Giuliani comment. Hanley is correct. The mainstream media lies and is out to get Trump and for you to deny that is laughable on its face.

    • Andrew, as I said– don’t just tell me that cnn lies– show me some lies–
      Sarah Huckabee last week said that 195 thousand jobs were created for black people in 8 years under Obama– The real number was about 3 million.
      Rudy said trump spoke to comey about flynn– then said he didn’t.
      Why should anyone accept the clear statement “truth is not truth” from one of the presidents lawyers ?
      Trump said 6 new steel plants are under construction– they are not even being planned.
      Mexico will pay for the wall
      I will not play golf while in the white house
      trump undermines himself.
      Show me the lies—

    • Fox boasts they are the most viewed network; that would make them mainstream media. They’ve been fact-checked and shown to lie more than any other major network, including NPR, CNN, and MSNBC.

      We are not undermining Trump, he does it himself. Likewise practitioners of American Christianity undermines themselves and their beliefs. And that neatly counters the remainder of your comment.

      Trump is working to destroy the Constitution and his adherents support him. It is the right and responsibility of Americans to opine whether the President is doing a bad job or committing treason.

  6. Trump did not cause “fake news” – the electorate figured out that the media have been complicit in misleading the people for decades, serving as the tool of the globalists whose agenda can only harm our country. Trump is the effect, maybe not the best solution but he’s the one who stepped up to answer the call.

  7. Hanley
    we have video of the incident– there was no bad behavior involved.
    She was a representative of all digital media that day– there was not an offer to allow any other digital media reporter to cover the event. Please watch the video– not surprisingly, the white house account is clearly a lie–
    by the way, i am waiting for you to post some demonstrable lies by the “fake news” organizations
    Just today, this came up about your dear leader and his false statements.
    You have the kool aid rhetoric down– please document some liberal media lies–
    trump had 57 verifiable lies last week, seems to be topping himself week after week.
    Of course, if ” truth is not truth” is true, then “a lie is not a lie” is also true. Which puts us into a bit of a pickle, as they would say.

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