Fake hues and cries
Barbara Perry compares Trump's relationship with the media to previous presidents
[Read the full article at The Hill]
Most presidents have a love-hate relationship with the press. They love fawning stories from media allies but hate the slings and arrows launched by what they perceive as an adversarial “fourth estate.” Yet this role is exactly what the Founding Fathers envisioned for a free press as enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment. The amendment’s author, James Madison, explained: “Freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”
A more recent interpreter of the Framers’ intentions in protecting the press, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, argued in the 1971 Pentagon Papers Case, which allowed the New York Times and Washington Post to publish the secret history of America’s involvement in Vietnam, that “in the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. … Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” When Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did so in the Watergate scandal, a 1974 Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans trusted the media “a great deal or a fair amount.”
Justice William Brennan applied the Founders’ free press theories in a 1964 landmark libel case, protecting newspapers from defamation suits brought by public officials. He cited “a profound national principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open. … It may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”
Juxtapose these principles with President Trump’s recent Tweet: “The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!” Sanders held her first televised press briefing of 2019 on Monday.