News Media to POTUS: We're Not Backing Down

News outlets across the country Thursday (Aug. 16) fought back against President Donald Trump's drumbeat of criticisms against mainstream media outlets as enemies and conspirators.

On its 'Reality Check' segment Thursday morning (Aug. 16), CNN, one of Trump's favorite targets, said that about 350 newspapers were participating in the effort, launched by the Boston Globe, to make it clear the press is not the enemy or "fake news." 

The Globe pulled no punches in its editorial Thursday:

"Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country," its editorial board wrote. "Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current U.S. administration are the “enemy of the people.” This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president much like an old-time charlatan threw out “magic” dust or water on a hopeful crowd. 'The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom,' wrote John Adams. For more than two centuries, this foundational American principle has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat. And it sends an alarming signal to despots, from Ankara to Moscow, Beijing to Baghdad, that journalists can be treated as a domestic enemy."

Broadcast and cable outlets were also participating in the effort, with the full backing of the Radio-Television Digital News Association.  

Related: Trump Pulls, Threatens Security Clearances of Critics

Quoting Thomas Jefferson--"Where the press is free and every man ble to read, all is safe"--WPSD-TV Paducah, K.Y., Evolving Media & Content manager Manda Barger wrote online that the President's accusation that the press is the enemy has "contributed to a negative environment for news outlets. It may even create potentially dangerous situations for journalists already working in a hazardous field....Reporting is both a calling and a responsibility we take seriously at WPSD-TV."

In San Antonio, Tex., KSAT news director Bernice Kearney, saying she was speaking for the entire news team, said they were "fierce protectors of the truth," including "holding truth to power – asking tough questions and getting answers that help make the lives of those in our local communities better, safer, stronger."

Related: Trump Suggests NBC License Should be Challenged

Kearney made no mention of the President while laying out its case for why it was not the enemy of the public it is chartered to serve. "Fake news" is news that is not real, NOT truthful stories you don’t like," she said.

At least one discouraging word was being sounded by Politico senior media writer Jack Schafer, who said the news outlets were playing into the President's hands by presenting a united front that Trump could use as evidence there was indeed a news "cabal" massed against him.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has signaled he will use some of his time questioning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at an Aug. 16 FCC oversight hearing to make sure he has journalists' backs.

Related: Sen. Udall Will Seek Press Freedom Commitment from Pai

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel did not have to be asked to stand up for the press.In her prepared testimony for the Aug. 16 hearing, she said: "[L]et’s do something that should not be bold—but may feel like it is. Let’s reiterate the FCC’s support for the First Amendment and commit to media policies that ensure news organizations can report without fear or favor."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.