EDITORIAL

The press isn't perfect, but it also isn't 'fake'

Posted

This publication, for the most part, tries to avoid delving into national news and especially national politics, as our mission is much more driven by a desire to provide truthful, thought-provoking, local content to the people who reside in the communities we cover – the same places we live in, love and want to keep an eye on.

However, we also find it important to stand with fellow publications, big and small, from all over the country that have chosen today to voice their concerns regarding a dangerous movement occurring in this country – one that unfortunately flows from the top executive level of our government. We are talking about President Donald Trump’s constant insistence that all media he doesn’t agree with simply be considered “fake news.”

This issue is polarizing, and it is not difficult to see why. From our standpoint, news organizations such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe frequently produce work that represents the pinnacle of our profession. However, to somebody who has bought the “fake news” explanation delivered by Trump, those same organizations are simply the best at faking news and spreading their biases.

Immediately, there is an irreconcilable cognitive dissonance between people simply because they do not agree with one another ideologically or politically. This is remarkably dangerous.

Regardless of whether you think Trump is a saving grace for the nation or he is helping steer us off a steep ravine, his attacks on the press can, in no way, shape or form, be considered healthy for our democracy. This country has thrived for centuries largely because a room full of men once had the foresight to add 10 additional provisions to the country’s new Constitution – the group of essential amendments we simply call The Bill of Rights today. The very first of those amendments crucially states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Guaranteeing a free press comes before the right to have guns, it comes before guaranteeing a trial by jury, it comes before protections against cruel and unusual punishment and the amendment guaranteeing separation of powers within the government. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Although President Trump is not technically limiting the freedom of the press through any executive or legislative action at this time, he is doing something that we argue is more insidious – he is attacking and undermining the vital role that the free press plays in our democracy. He is actively selling people that the media in general – not just a handful of outlets guilty of sensationalism or bad ethics – is not to be trusted, and that his version of truth is the only thing that matters.

We agree with Ronald Reagan, who once said that, “Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth…”

It is the goal of any credible news organization to expose lies and uncover truth. Unlike most businesses (and businessmen, like Trump), that strive to promote their version of truth and promote only good news about themselves, the press is, in a perfect world, an objective force which puts ideas, people and governments on trial in the court of public opinion – regardless of whether or not the verdict is of positive or negative consequence to any of the parties involved.

In countless cases throughout history, the press has been responsible for uncovering some of the most important secrets that have changed the entire trajectory of our society. Some of these, such as the Watergate break in and the release of the Pentagon Papers, put the news outlets that reported them at great risk – not just from a business perspective, but also to the people working against powerful forces who would rather these secrets stay hidden.

There are countless examples of the press shining a light of truth on shadows of deceit that will go unrecorded in history books. Countless hours of investigative work by journalists from smaller communities will be read by only a handful of people. But the premise has always remained the same –when powerful people have so much at stake and more reasons to lie rather than tell the truth, the workings of a free, unbiased press is the only non-violent force the public has to keep the scales of justice balanced.

By choosing to malign the press as simply spreading “fake news” when it publishes a piece that paints him in a negative light, Donald Trump is chipping away at one of the foundational pillars of our democracy. We are sorry to say that the people who simply accept his lazy brushing off of facts and disregard for the truth – the same people standing on a platform supported by that pillar – are helping sharpen his chisel.

We are not saying the media is infallible or above criticism. Rather, we believe that the media, despite all of its imperfections – much of that, ironically, caused by the profit-driven tactics of businessmen that created the 24-hour news cycle – is absolutely crucial to a healthy America.

Donald Trump does not get to dictate what is true, and what is fake. In fact, nobody does. The truth simply is, and it’s our job to find it and tell it to you. Some of us take this responsibility much more seriously than others, and some unfortunately undermine that mission for selfish agendas. However, James Madison actually summed up why a free press is essential – even despite the negative elements that come with it – in his 1801 essay decrying the Sedition Acts of 1798, which limited free speech that was “critical” of the government.

“Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of every thing, and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press. It has accordingly been decided by the practice of the States, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding the proper fruits.”

Comments

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Justanidiot

Это то, что ваши русские мастера сказали вам написать.

Thursday, August 16
CrickeeRaven

Hahaha, that's brillant, Justanidiot.

I won't spoil it by printing the English translation.

Thursday, August 16
richardcorrente

Finally.

Written proof that "Justanidiot" is anything but.

Happy August old friend.

Rick

Thursday, August 16
igor1113

Fake News is like porn: you know it when you see it and the Beacon is as guilty of Fake news is are most of MSM..

Friday, August 17
TheSkipper

The President just calls it as he sees it.

When you skew everything decidedly to your opinion, obliterating the facts for your ajenda, ignoring positive outcomes because it dosen't help your views and policies, and you are a news media outlet? That's FAKE NEWS. When you employ people to re-enact an event that you couldn't get on camera? That's FAKE NEWS. When you exaggerate camera angles and falsely shake the cameras for effect of tension and drama? That's FAKE NEWS. When your candidate is running for President and she can't fill a highschool gym with supporters so you keep a tight focus on her so people don't see nobody cares that she came? That's FAKE NEWS. On the other hand In the same story when the candidate you oppose is filling sports stadiums with people and they're screaming his name but you only play the audio when he is speaking so everyone is quiet and Cut tight on him so it won't show the thousands who have shown up? That's FAKE NEWS.

CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and yes even FOX all do it at some point, but news is supposed to report What happened, When it happened, and maybe How it happened, But when they try to tell you WHY it happened, and what YOU should THINK about it? THAT'S FAKE NEWS......

Friday, August 17
RichardBurton

I agree with the Skipper. May I add something please. A couple of weeks ago CNN had a panel of Trump voters. And in that group they had a plant. An actor. He was the “regretful” voter of Donald Trump and professed his hatedred for him by calling him a monster amongst other names. Well, the internet exposed this fraud as a socialist democratic. They found many videos of himself on social media attacking the president and making clear of his party affiliation. This isn’t a mistake. CNN has been doing this kind of deception since the Iraq war when they pretended there was a drill during a broadcast and it was all staged!

The fact is, print media has been dying a slow death. Mainstream news outlets like CNN and MSNBC are losing viewers. It is blatantly clear they will do anything and everything, including producing fake news, to keep those clicks and eyeballs on their channels. Most of us see through this rouse. Unfortunately this same media have successfully brainwashed an entire generation of people to take a side. And if your not with “them” you are a Nazi, a bigot, a racist.... and I refuse to buy into that BS. As a consumer of alternative news sources outside the MSM (no not Alex Jones) I see the freedoms of good, independent journalist voices and websites being taken down and silenced every day. This is a slippery slope. Who exactly is the arbitrator of speech? Either we have free speech or we don’t. These “private” corporations are heavily subsidized by the US government and they have enormous power. Are they going to be the internet “thought” police? Did you know that Google has been actively working with communist China to further censor their internet? Why are the democrats working so hard to silence opposing viewpoints??? Before you know it we will all be living in Orwell’s 1984. All I ask of you is to think about it...

Friday, August 17
Justanidiot

The 24/7 cable channels that have some news (i.e. Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc) are not news channels. They are talking head channels. You can get opinions from them 24/7 but heaven help you find out about news. They spin everything and opine and scream and yell. Sure they do have a news story hidden in there once in a while, but will drop it for opinion at the drop of a hat.

We used to get our news in a half hour local broadcast and a half hour national broadcast. Plus what you read in the paper. They did have opinion pieces but they were clearly labeled and set aside from the news. Today Richard Nixon would have been able to do his eight years in office and leave head held high because nothing would have ever come about around Watergate. There would be so much spin that he would have had his stonewall.

Friday, August 17
MarkThompson

Bravo Zulu!

Saturday, August 18
igor1113

Thank you Skipper for setting it straight. The Beacon along with the others pretend to be outraged by the Presidents attacks on themselves: ."...he (the President) is doing something that we argue is more insidious – he is attacking and undermining the vital role that the free press plays in our democracy. He is actively selling people that the media in general... is not to be trusted..." THAT'S RIGHT!! WE DON'T TRUST YOU!! WHY SHOULD WE AFTER SEEING YOU TRY TO UNDERMINE HIS PERSON EVERY DAY? And we don't need to be "sold". You are the whores that print your lies and parade them as righteous truth. How so? How about when the Beacon prints that nonsense about the seas rising 30 to 50 feet before the end of the century and never, ever explain that it is fanciful hypothesis that cant be verified.

Saturday, August 18
patientman

The press has brought it on themselves. At some point last year I read an article on CNN about an undocumented immigrant that had been deported. The title was something akin to "I Loved Too Much" Says Deported Mother. It would have been a hell of a lot more accurate had the title been "Convicted Felon Deported". A reader would have had to read almost the entire article before you read anything about her felony conviction for identity theft. Three sections of prejudicial fluff about her daughters that were born in the U.S. before you get to the key element in the story.

Saturday, August 25