Hundreds Of US Newspapers Hit Back At Trump, Defend Free Press

United States President, Donald Trump has repeatedly accused mainstream newspapers of churning out “fake news”. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

United States newspapers, big and small, on Thursday hit back at Donald Trump’s attacks on the news media with a coordinated campaign of editorials, triggering a fresh tirade from the President on Twitter.

Leading the charge was The Boston Globe, which had called for the drive highlighting the importance of a free press, accompanied by the hashtag #EnemyOfNone.

More than 300 newspapers around the country joined the effort.

“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 US administration are the ‘enemy of the people,'” the Globe editorial said.

“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,” it added in a piece entitled “Journalists are not the Enemy.”

The front page of the Thursday, August 16, 2018 edition of the Boston Globe newspaper reads “Journalists are Not the Enemy”, Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images/AFP

 

The effort comes amid Trump’s persistent claims that mainstream media outlets that publish articles critical of him are churning out “fake news.”

The New York Times, a frequent target of Trump’s criticism, ran a seven-paragraph editorial under a giant headline with all capital letters that read “A FREE PRESS NEEDS YOU.”

“Insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period,” the Times wrote.

Trump fired back on Twitter by repeating his contention that the “fake” news media is “the opposition party” and claiming the Boston Globe was “in collusion” against him with other media.

“There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS,” he tweeted.

“The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people.”

The US Senate meanwhile countered the White House by unanimously passing a resolution citing the “indispensable role of the free press” and warning that efforts to undermine the media were “an attack on our democratic institutions.”

Other newspapers joining the campaign said Trump’s attacks diminish the importance of journalists in their communities.

“For more than two centuries.. the press has served as a check on power, informing the American people about corruption and greed, triumphs and tragedies, grave mistakes and misdeeds and even ineptitude and dysfunction,” wrote the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico.

Iowa’s Des Moines Register said, “The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger.”

Cannot sit back

Free press advocates argue that Trump’s attacks imperil the constitutional First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.

“I don’t think the press can just sit back and take it, they need to make their case when the most powerful man in the world tries to undercut the First Amendment,” said Ken Paulson, a former editor-in-chief of USA Today who is dean of communications at Middle Tennessee State University.

But Paulson questioned whether editorials would be effective.

“The people who read editorials don’t need to be convinced,” he said. “They are not the ones trying to shout you down at presidential rallies.”

The campaign also faced the potential for galvanizing supporters of the president around the notion that the media is out to get him.

The San Francisco Chronicle said it would not join the effort because “it plays into Trump’s narrative that the media are aligned against him.”

But the newspaper said it would “continue to speak out against this president’s war on the free press,” doing it “in our own way, on our own timetable.”

Stakes too high

But media rights advocates say the stakes are too high to allow the president’s claims to go unchecked.

Some say Trump’s comments have incited threats against journalists covering his events, and may have created a climate of hostility that opened the door to violent attacks like a deadly one in June against the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.

“Trump’s references to us as the ‘enemy of the American People’ are no less dangerous because they happen to be strategic,” the Kansas City Star wrote. “That is what Nazis called Jews. It’s how Joseph Stalin’s critics were marked for execution.”

Trump’s actions are also encouraging strongmen such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey to treat journalists like enemies, some newspapers said.

“The messages in today’s newspapers are best read not as a drift toward war footing, but rather as a reminder that journalism is important work,” wrote Pete Vernon in the Columbia Journalism Review.

AFP

Sudan Seizes Three Newspapers For Covering Protests

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Photo: ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

 

Sudanese security agents seized the entire print-runs of three newspapers on Thursday after they covered food price protests in Khartoum and other towns, their editors said.

Opposition groups have organised repeated demonstrations since bread prices jumped in early January when a government decision to leave wheat imports to the private sector triggered a sharp rise in the cost of flour.

Several newspapers have criticised the government’s decision, and on Thursday agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated the print-runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Midan and Al-Jadida newspapers.

“The agents of NISS confiscated all copies of our newspaper today without giving any reason,” Al-Jadida editor Ashraf Abdelaziz told AFP.

Media in Sudan are frequently targeted for their reporting. The country regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings.

Several senior leaders of opposition groups have been arrested by NISS agents since January in a bid to prevent the food price protests from spreading.

Several journalists were arrested while covering protests in Khartoum last month. Most have since been released.

“There is a perception among senior government officials that we are communists, which is not true,” said Abdelaziz when asked why his newspaper had become a repeated target of NISS.

“We have also refused NISS orders asking us not to cover the protests.”

Anti-riot police and NISS agents have so far managed to swiftly break up the protests, which have seen small groups of demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans in Khartoum and other towns.

Sudan witnessed similar sporadic protests in late 2016 after a government decision to cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests in an attempt to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed a similar round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Human rights groups say dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 protests, drawing international condemnation.

AFP

Sudan Security Seizes Newspapers After Publication Criticising Bread Price Hike

A Sudanese man works at a bakery in the capital Khartoum on January 5, 2018. Angry Sudanese queued outside bakeries in Khartoum as bread prices doubled overnight, with bakers blaming a government decision to stop importing wheat. PHOTO: ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

Sudanese security agents on Sunday seized all copies of six newspapers after they criticised the government over soaring bread prices that have almost doubled this week, editors said.

Discontent has been simmering over the past few days as bread prices jumped on the back of a sharp rise in the cost of flour after a government decision to shift importing of wheat to private sector companies.

Several newspapers have criticised the decision concerning wheat imports, while the country’s opposition groups called for nationwide demonstrations against the price rise.

On Sunday, members of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated entire print runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Mustagilla, Al-Karar, Al-Midan, Al-Assayha and Akhbar Al-Watan newspapers.

Akhbar al-Watan and Al-Midan are mouthpieces of opposition Sudanese Congress Party and the Communist Party, while the other four newspapers are independent journals that often report criticism of the government.

“No reason was given for confiscating copies of our newspaper but I think it was due to our transparent coverage of the food price rise,” said Hanadi Al-Sidiq, editor of Akhbar Al-Watan.

Editors of other newspapers also confirmed to AFP that NISS agents had confiscated the entire print runs of their Sunday editions.

Media in Sudan are frequently targeted for their reporting. The country regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings.

An opposition group said its members were also targeted after the call for nationwide demonstrations against the price rise.

Two senior leaders of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party have been detained by NISS agents, the party said in a statement.

On Saturday, police fired tear gas at groups of students protesting the price rise in the central Sudanese town of Sennar, witnesses told AFP.

Sudan witnessed sporadic protests in late 2016 after a government decision to cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests in an attempt to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed a similar round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Dozens of people were killed in 2013 protests when security forces crushed large street demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.

AFP

Boko Haram Members, Armed Bandit Paraded In Lokoja

Boko HaramAbout 17 suspected criminals and Boko Haram terrorist who have been hibernating within Kogi State have been nabbed and paraded by the Nigerian Army in Lokoja, the state capital.

The Commandant, Chari Maigumeri Barracks in Lokoja, Brigadier General Henry Ayamasaowea while parading the suspects before the State Governor, Yahaya Bello said they were picked up following a special operation by the Nigerian Army, Navy and the DSS, who have been working around the clock in the last three weeks in the state to put an end to the kidnapping and invasion of insurgents into the state.

Meanwhile, apart from the Boko Haram members nabbed by the joint operation, those arrested and paraded also include the hoodlums that attacked a police station in Eika, Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi state where two police officers were killed.

Some of the items recovered from the terrorist are several Ak 47, locally made guns, 12 masks of different size, ammunition, dagger, pump action guns, grenade and explosives devises.

The Commandant, briefed the governor on how the 17 suspects were all arrested in Okene and its environs, he said the joint operation combed the entire central senatorial district of the state and the insurgence have invaded Kogi state after the military success in Sambisa forest.

The Operation Officer Lieutenant Colonel, Tosin Ayoola also gave the governor a breakdown on what they have on ground, he identified the suspects as members of the Boko Haram and not a suspect.

However, Governor Bello said, “If the joint task-force will build on the tempo adopted in arresting this suspected terrorist, then crime will be reduced within the shortest time in Kogi state”.