Donald Trump's assault on the press took a new and ominous step yesterday when he called the press the "enemy of the American people." At a rally in Florida, he misquoted Thomas Jefferson in an effort to defend his position, a fact brought to light by journalists.
The Jeffersonian quote that Trump should've used was this:
"The only security of all is in a free press." - Thomas Jefferson
He might've also cited the words of South African President Nelson Mandela:
"A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy."
I understand why Trump is attempting to turn the American people against the media. In just his third week in office, journalists revealed that National Security Advisor Mike Flynn had lied to the Vice President and the American people about his discussions with Russia prior to the inauguration - lies that Trump knew about for at least two weeks and did nothing about except fire the one person (Sally Yates) who warned him about Flynn's lies and his possible exposure to blackmail as a result.
This led to the eventual firing of Flynn - something Trump obviously wanted to avoid but needed to happen for the safety and security of the country.
The truth can be inconvenient, particularly when you are attempting to cover up illegalities in your administration.
Thankfully, Americans are supporting the media in numbers greater than ever before. Increases in subscriptions and viewership across television and newspapers is astounding:
The New York Times - a favorite target of the President - is enjoying record numbers of digital subscriptions, and their stock is at a 52 week high.
The media is not and never has been the enemy of the American people. The media is comprised of men and women who seek the truth on a daily basis, oftentimes risking their lives in the process.
Journalism giants like Woodward and Bernstein saved our country from a tyrant (who also referred to the press as an enemy). Trailblazing journalists like Nellie Bly changed the way mental health institutions are run today.
And then there are the thousands of journalists who have been kidnapped, tortured, murdered, beheaded, and otherwise killed in the line of duty.
Here are the faces of just a few of the men and women who have given their lives in pursuit of the truth in the last few years. A President who was granted five highly questionable military deferments during Vietnam has no right referring to our press as the enemy of the American people.
Journalists are all that stands between propaganda and truth. They are underpaid, under-appreciated, oftentimes unsung heroes of the American people.
We must stand beside them in times like these.