In honor of last week’s Constitution Day as well as attempting to counter the current narrative in this country that the press are the enemy of the people and wrong is right. I have faith in our country, but more importantly its people that we can turn this crazy train around and get back on the right track.
Today is World Free Press Day. Many of us know that included in the First Amendment is our sacred freedom of the press, but because this document is two hundred thirty-one years old we don’t always give it the respect and attention it deserves. In fact, a free press in the United States is something that i think many of us take for granted. We assume that if we need to know it, CNN or MSNBC or The Washington Post, etc. will let us know in big twenty point headlines and short, pithy, decible-breaking sound bites.
For Halloween in 2016, I dressed as a journalist with a notebook, 1940s hat, and press pass. I quoted Thomas Jefferson. I got a few nods and nice costumes, but it wasn’t just a cosplay or costume. I had been watching the 2016 election for more than a year, and what was happening from the Trump campaign was was distressing to me.
I can’t have been the only one to see what was happening in this country, but I felt as though I was screaming into the void.
After two years of this Administration’s trampling of journalists and the press, they’ve erased mention of a free press in the Department of Justice’s internal manual. This country was founded on basic tenets, none more basic than the First Amendment, and a free press to keep the government accountable.
Now, Trump’s Justice Department was chipping away at those basic tenets with a sledgehammer.
There are journalists around the world, trying to get the truth out, who are kidnapped, tortured, and killed. We need to shine a light on this epidemic, and the United States needs to go back to leading the way for the press to be free.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is one organization who shines the light and keeps the rest of us aware of what’s happening around the world.
Press Freedom is under threat – press release
Press Freedom is under threat – Mission Report. This includes a link to download the full report. I urge you to read it.
Free the Press: 2018 Campaign to Free Imprisoned Journalists:
As Walter Cronkite said, “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
My Halloween costume this year is a political statement. I’ve been shocked and appalled by the number of attacks, both verbally and physically on journalists in the past year and throughout this election cycle, mainly from one side in particular.
There is a reason that freedom of the press is in the first amendment; it is that important.
We can’t let serious presidential candidates mock journalists for their disabilities.
We can’t let candidates refuse press credentials to mainstream, reliable, longstanding investigative journalistic newspapers like The Washington Post, the paper that broke the Watergate scandal.
At the same time, we can’t let them issue credentials to their friends.
We can’t let campaign employees (Lewandowski) assault journalists (from Breitbart no less).
We can’t let journalists (like Amy Goodman) be arrested for inciting and disorderly conduct when she is working as a journalist (and has been for more than 20 years) and covering an important news story that you just don’t like (ND pipeline).
I’m certain that I’ve left out at least half a dozen incidents that I can’t recall at this moment.
This is for every journalist kidnapped while doing their job. At the most recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama honored Jason Rezaian, journalist released from an Iranian prison. He stated, in part, “This year, we see that courage [Jason Rezaian] in the flesh and it’s a living testament to the very idea of a free press, and a reminder of the rising level of danger, and political intimidation, and physical threats faced by reporters overseas.” [And I would add, here at home as well.]
This is for David Bloom who died doing his job.
This is for Daniel Pearl who was murdered for his religion.
This is for Bob Woodruff who got a traumatic brain injury doing his job.
This is for Spotlight, the Academy Award’s Best Picture for 2016.
This is for every journalist who went to jail for protecting a source.
This is for the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.