We are not the enemy

President Trump’s rant is a dangerous step in his continuing battle with the press

According to President Trump, the media is the “enemy of the American people.” We beg to differ, and we believe history is on our side.

Our nation’s Founding Fathers saw journalists as integral to democracy. Journalists serve the governed by holding politicians accountable, and while the relationship between the media and office holders hasn’t always been rosy, most understand the value of their role in society. Thomas Jefferson, though not a particular fan of the press, famously said, “And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” The media, after all, ensure the fair and transparent workings of government. That, apparently, was so important that freedom of the press was included in the First Amendment.

Not that journalists are—or should be—above rebuke. Media must adhere to certain standards. For instance, we should write clearly and grammatically; we should research thoroughly; we should treat our subjects respectfully; and we should report accurately. We also must take our role as watchdogs seriously and not cower under threats, such as those made by Trump to “open up libel laws” to make it easier to sue the media. We must stand up to these bullies, of whom there are many in government, and hold them to account. That’s what we do.

Arizona Sen. John McCain had it right when he countered Trump’s assertion casting the media as the enemy. “That’s how dictators get started,” he told Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd. Undermining the people’s trust in the press is a dangerous step toward suppressing the efforts to hold the government—and especially a wild card with power like Trump—accountable to those same people. We are not the enemy.