I’m writing to share my concerns about the anti-journalism rhetoric that Trump and his Republican peers have been spreading in recent months. As a journalism student, I’ve been gritting my teeth at the very sight of Trump, who I refuse to call my president, writing every news media outlet off as “fake news” and an “enemy of the American people” and turning journalists away every chance they get at asking him questions about whether or not the Russians helped him cheat his way to the White House; the police arresting West Virginia reporter Dan Heyman for “willful disruption of state government processes” after asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about the GOP healthcare bill; and more recently, then Republican candidate for Congress Greg Gianforte body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs for inquiring about the aforementioned bill the night before Montana’s congressional election.
Journalists work very hard to write and report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the events they have witnessed to the public, and make sure that everything they report is accurate and fair. “Fake news” is considered “fabrication” in the eyes of every news organization in the country, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, who had to punish their fair share of fabricators and plagiarists (Jayson Blair played both roles during his tenure at the former company). Trump, on the other hand, considers “fake news” to be your reports about alleged communications between him and our communist neighbor overseas during his campaign, and he’s gone to great lengths to criminalize every reporter for their attempts at getting to the bottom of the greatest political scandal since Watergate, therefore unraveling the very tenet of our democracy as we know it.
Freedom of speech and the press is not only a constitutional right, but also a basic, inalienable, universal human right. It’s already a travesty that journalists in countries that limit or restrict the press are facing prison time or even death for reporting the atrocities of their governments to the public. It’s even more tragic that the very government that guaranteed our rights to free speech, expression, and press over 240 years ago is threatening to silence us for reporting his fraudulent practices inside the Oval Office and beyond simply because they believe that everything you’re reporting is a lie when, in reality, you’re reporting the truth.
I always told my family that I would never travel to a communist country since such countries are notorious for restricting freedom of speech and the press. Now I fear that the United States is turning into one in light of these attacks against journalists. It breaks my heart to hear that once I graduate from college and enter the news media industry, instead of receiving high praise from people for reporting on issues that matter most to them and myself, I will be met with bodily injury and/or even death by fear-mongering politicians and their supporters.
I commend your courage for continuing to hold Trump accountable for his gross misconduct during his six months in office. Your bravery in the face of political adversity gives me hope that someday I’ll be able to perform my job without the risk of cruel and unusual punishment from any government official. I can’t imagine myself living in a country where journalism is no longer a job opportunity for people who want to enter that field, so thank you for all you’re doing to keep that dream and freedom alive. I didn’t want to study journalism before I set foot in college, but now I don’t want to change that path for anything or anyone, especially the man who doesn’t deserve to stay in the White House. I refuse to let Trump make me feel as if everything I’m working for is at risk.