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'Boston Globe' Calls On Papers To Counter Trump's War On The Media


An editorial in The Boston Globe this morning has the headline "Journalists Are Not The Enemy." This is in response to President Trump's attacks. He has called the media, quote, "the enemy of the American people." Now, the Globe asked other newspapers to join them today in running an editorial like this, and more than 300 publications heeded the call. This was spearheaded by Marjorie Pritchard. She's the op-ed editor of The Boston Globe, and she joins us this morning.

Thanks for coming on the program.


GREENE: So your editorial this morning says that the president's, quote, "relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences." What is the danger here?

PRITCHARD: The danger is that he is labeling the press the enemy of the American people. These are fellow citizens, and we thought it would be good to have a response from editorial pages - or publications around the country to defend the press.

GREENE: What is the danger, though? What's at stake here? I mean, it's certainly not pleasant, you know, as journalists, to be called out for what the president calls fake news and to be attacked in his speeches. But when you say there's a danger here - I mean, talk about what's at stake.

PRITCHARD: He's calling the press a domestic enemy. And we are fellow countrymen, and our profession is to hold the powerful accountable. And that could have potential consequences with his rhetoric.

GREENE: I remember reading a Harvard University study looking at news coverage of the early days of the Trump presidency, and that study found that the coverage was overwhelmingly negative. Does that give this president evidence to present to his supporters when he says that the media is against him?

PRITCHARD: This isn't - this editorial project is not against the Trump administration's agenda. It's a response to put us into the public discourse and defend the First Amendment.

GREENE: Well, I - what we're reading this morning, I mean, it's coming from editorial boards, obviously. And as many people note, that's separate. I mean, that's not the reporters who cover politics. But if Americans don't make that distinction, could this add to the perception among Donald Trump supporters that the press is the enemy of him?

PRITCHARD: It could. But it also is a point where we could start to explain the difference between the editorial side of a publication and the news side. The news side reports on an event, and the opinion side comments on that. And I think that has been - I think there's confusion on how newspapers actually work.

GREENE: I guess I - I wonder about the timing. President Trump has been fiercely criticizing the media since he came into office - since before he took office, years before he took office. Why now? Why this moment?

PRITCHARD: Because the press needs to have a voice on this. We haven't really - we've done individual editorials. But I think there is some strength in numbers of just defending a constitutionally enshrined pillar of democracy.

GREENE: Are you surprised by the number of media organizations who came on and signed up to do this with you?

PRITCHARD: No because I think the importance of a free press and the role it plays in communities is different, and people feel the effect whether it's in Boston or in a small rural town.

GREENE: Marjorie Pritchard is the op-ed editor of The Boston Globe joining us this morning.

Thanks so much.

PRITCHARD: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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