Newspapers across US rebuke Trump with defence of free press

US president hits back at co-ordinated criticism, describing ‘fake news media’ as the opposition

Over 300 newspapers have published editorials denouncing US president Donald Trump's treatment of the media. Video: Reuters/ CBS/ MSNBC/ CNN ABC News

Hundreds of US newspapers on Thursday launched a co-ordinated defence of press freedom and a rebuke of President Donald Trump for denouncing some media organisations as enemies of the American people.

"A central pillar of President Trump's politics is a sustained assault on the free press," said an editorial by the Boston Globe, which co-ordinated publication of similar statements among more than 350 newspapers.

"The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful," the Globe said. "To label the press 'the enemy of the people' is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries."

Each of the newspapers, including some in states Mr Trump won during the 2016 presidential election, ran an editorial, which is usually an unsigned article that reflects the opinion of an editorial board and is separate from the news and other sections in a paper.


The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom of the press.

Mr Trump has frequently criticised journalists and described news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions as fake news.

He lashed out again on Thursday, tweeting “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country.... BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

He also wrote there was nothing he would want more for the United States than true freedom of the press, but that much of what the media published was fake news, “pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!”

The Republican president’s comments reflect a view held by many US conservatives that most newspapers and other news outlets distort, make up or omit facts because of a bias against them.

A representative for the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the editorials.


In its editorial, the New York Times said it was correct to criticise the news media for underplaying or overplaying stories or for getting something wrong.

"News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job," the Times said. "But 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."

Thursday’s co-ordinated editorials were criticised by some in the media, including a CBS News commentary that described them as a “self-defeating act of journalistic groupthink”.

“Seriously ? Who’s going to be persuaded by this effort, or be impressed that a few hundred newspapers can hum the same tune? Who’s even going to notice?” a CBS News commentary asked.

Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they were not joining the Globe's effort.

The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values was independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that the move played into the hands of Mr Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.

Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of the Detroit News, spoke up for the press, but also said too many journalists were slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context.

“Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media,” the columnist wrote. “He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted.”– Reuters/AP