On Aug. 15, The Boston Globe published an editorial in response to President Trump’s recent attacks on the media. The editorial called these attacks dangerous to the foundation of our democracy, as they lead the public to only believe whatever the President might say, whether it be true or not. “The press is necessary to a free society because it does not implicitly trust leaders,” said the editorial. It went on to call other publications across the country to publish their own editorials speaking out on the issue.
The New York Times responded the same day with an editorial of its own, supporting The Boston Globe, while The San Francisco Chronicle decided not to join the movement, saying that joining the other publications played into the narrative that all media is in league against the President.
Although The New York Times and The Boston Globe have valid points, we believe that uniting in a national press movement is not the best way to address this issue.
For one, it is exactly the kind of protest that the President could twist to support his own agenda. Trump has been complaining about faulty news coverage, alternate facts and media bias against him since he started running for president. In one of his recent tweets he called multiple sources, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, “anti-Trump” and accused them of collusion. He regularly tweets about supposed lies spread by the media and has tweeted many other times in a similar fashion whenever a news source reports on something that reflects negatively on himself. He calls the sources fake, biased and in league against him.
Trump could easily interpret this editorial movement as proof that the media is ganging up on him. This is not necessarily true, but the President has proven time and time again that he only believes what he wants to. With such a large and influential platform, this is problematic as it perpetuates distrust of the media.
As of right now, only 48 percent of the population disagrees with Trump’s statements about the media being the enemy of the people, according to an Ipsos Poll. That number could drop if the President uses this movement as evidence that the media is against him. Even though the press has a right to voice their own opinion, the President can twist their words and misrepresent their actions, making it useless to try to speak out against his own moves and policies the way that The Boston Globe is doing.
Furthermore, joining a press campaign would forgo centuries of tradition. Publications have always been independent; it is one of the defining values of the free press. Each news source investigates and reports on issues on its own, separate from other newspapers. This is how the public knows that the news can be trusted: facts coming from several independent sources are more likely to be accurate and unbiased. If we maintain our independence, Trump has no real argument that the media is colluding against him. By rallying together, we forget why our independence is important.
We must remember that our actions speak louder than our words. The way to fight Trump’s mistreatment and mistrust of the media is not to make a big statement, but rather to show the public what we stand for. We must show them that, as an independent publication, we are trustworthy. The Lowell will do this by continuing to supply the news and our opinions independently. We cannot prevent Trump from continuing to discredit and undermine the press, but we can prevent him from being able to construct a legitimate argument against us. As long as there is no real evidence that the press is allied against him, his arguments will be brushed off by rational-minded people.
This is why The Lowell has chosen to speak on this matter but remain separate from the other newspapers who participated in the campaign. Joining other publications would serve the exact opposite purpose of what was intended. We would be playing into Trump’s narrative and only helping him to prove that the media is in collusion against him. Instead The Lowell will continue to do our job: providing accurate news to the best of our ability, independent of other publications.