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Monday, February 27, 2017

Excoriations by Donald Trump

From a Facebook conversation initiated by Tom Edwards and joined by Eric Blumer, this article got its legs. Eric is a technology director in a high-tech industry. Tom Edwards is a retired television director. Both citizens are concerned about protecting the free press.

Excoriate means to censure or criticize severely. Censorship in the United States, which involves the suppression of speech or public communication, raises issues of freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The First Amendment protects against censorship imposed by laws but does not give protection against corporate censorship, the sanctioning of speech by spokespersons, employees, and business associates by the threat of monetary loss, loss of employment, or loss of access to the marketplace.

Is the press more encumbered now by Donald Trump than before?

Eric Blumer is not sure the press is more encumbered now than before.  He observes that "Access to Open Records," freedom of information, has been a great battle for years now."

Executive branch agencies of the federal government are covered by the federal Freedom of Information Act. Openness, accountability, and honesty define government transparency. In a free society, transparency is government's obligation to share information with citizens. It is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.

According to the reporter Margaret Sullivan, "Obama promised transparency. But his administration is one of the most secretive."

Some things just aren’t cool. One of those, according to our no-drama president, is ignorance.

“It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about,” President Obama said during his recent Rutgers University commencement address. It was a swipe clearly intended for he-who-didn’t-need-to-be-named: Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president. 
Okay, no argument there. 
But the Obama administration itself has been part of a different know-nothing problem. It has kept the news media — and therefore the public — in the dark far too much over the past 7 1/2 years. 
After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, this has been one of the most secretive. And in certain ways, one of the most elusive. It’s also been one of the most punitive toward whistleblowers and leakers who want to bring light to wrongdoing they have observed from inside powerful institutions." 
Washington Post
Blumer said accurately that "Press associations spoke out against the prior administration's lack of transparency ...and its use of the FBI to spy on journalists phone records, etc....not to mention the use of private servers and emails to hide information."

As an independent journalist who covered Washington for many years, I have to say that my covering a Republican debate with CNN credentials resulted in my having less access than I would have gotten without the badge. As an independent, I could infiltrate many venues by registering as a participant versus as a journalist. I could go both ways.

The White House has no business bullying the major media and should work to include participation by minority and small town media too.

Media corporations staff coverage with independent journalists and analysts as well as those who provide different points of view. The audience must decide the opinions to which they have a personal affinity.

The press has had a degree of freedom in America, and it is by no means as free as a journalist might want.

Blumer said, "Calling the 'press' an enemy was a broad generalization."

I disagree with him that there are enemies of the Constitution lurking among the media. There may be people who are anti-capitalists. There may be socialists too. But these beliefs are protected by the Constitution.

Trump attacks the press.

1 comment:

  1. Steve Bannon may have been an exception. He was CEO of a right-wing media propaganda machine. He was and is one enemy of the free press.