Full-court press against Trump’s media attacks

One of the best-known lines concerning the job of the press in the Trump era, where a US president with little regard for the First Amendment to the Constitution he swore to defend  seems to attack journalism on an almost daily basis, comes from Washington Post editor Marty Baron. “We are not at war, we’re at work,” the ever even-keeled newsman has said in numerous speeches, a line that he said recently will apparently now appear on his tombstone.

While the job of news pages, as Baron makes clear, may be to ignore all the noise and continue to report aggressively on those in powerful positions, as they always have, the editorial pages of hundreds of US newspapers today are making a loud statement that it’s anything but business as usual when it comes to the natural tension between a presidential administration and a vigorous press corps.

In an effort organized by Boston Globe op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard, about 350 newspapers across the country rolled out editorials today taking on Trump over his relentless attacks on the media.

“Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people,’” reads the Globe’s editorial. “This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president, much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd.”

To underscore how far outside acceptable norms Trump’s behavior stands, the Globe makes clear that the effort has been joined by editorial boards “liberal and conservative, large and small” — and it prints excerpts from a few of those editorials, ranging from the Hartford Courant and Providence Journal to the Hays Free Press and The News Dispatch from Kyle and Dripping Springs, Texas.

Notably absent from the roster among major dailies is the Washington Post, where perhaps Baron’s anti-war mantra seeped into the thinking of the opinion page editors, even though they don’t work under him.

Closer to home, the Boston Herald, which has taken a big Trumpian turn under new editorial page editor Tom Shattuck, also shuns the effort. (Though the Herald editorial page chose not to join the effort, at least one of its reporters seems to wish it had. “Thank you to @GlobeOpinion for your leadership in defending the First Amendment, journalists and our democracy,” Herald education reporter Kathleen McKiernan tweeted this morning.)

“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” concludes the Globe editorial. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”

Perhaps most disturbing are the poll numbers the Globe editorial includes that show just how widely Trump’s views are held, particularly by Republican voters. More than a quarter of all Americans think “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” a number that jumps to 43 percent among Republicans.

Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy applauded the Globe for its leadership. “Journalism is under siege,” he wrote. “It’s time for us to stand up for our values and to remind the public of what the First Amendment is all about.”

At the same time, he acknowledged an underlying reality of the editorial effort in the midst of an incredibly polarized political climate.  “I doubt that more than a handful of hearts and minds are going to be changed on Thursday,” Kennedy wrote.

As if to underscore the point, Trump took to Twitter this morning with his own apparent response to the editorial onslaught, at once confirming his dangerous view of the press and reinforcing that he will only use the showdown to try to harden his backers’ decidedly illiberal beliefs about the role of the press in a democracy. “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY,” he declared. “It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Initial speculation focused on a pair of Baker cabinet secretaries to replace Tom Glynn as CEO of Massport. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker signs a bill into law designed to improve care for Alzheimer’s patients. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston officials shut down a storage facility after discovering people were paying rent to live in some of the units. (Boston Herald)

The head of Milford’s Personnel Board has filed suit against the town and two selectmen charging they ousted him under the pretense of his residency but claims it was in retaliation for opposing some of their policies and supporting their political opponents. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Following through on his threats to silence his foes, President Trump, in an unprecedented move, revoked the security clearance for former CIA director John Brennan, who has been among Trump’s harshest critics. (New York Times) Some see the action as a diversion from the president’s ongoing political problems. (Washington Post).

The Colorado baker who won his case claiming he had the right to refuse to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding is  once again facing civil rights violations charges for refusing to bake a cake for a transgendered woman. (National Review)

ELECTIONS

Challenger Ayanna Pressley goes on the offensive against Rep. Michael Capuano in the final scheduled debate of their Democratic primary contest, jabbing at him from the left with charges of being willing to fund President Trump’s “hate wall” and for expressing skepticism about pushing gun control measures. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Herald endorses Gov. Charlie Baker in next month’s Republican gubernatorial primary and Bob Massie in the Democratic primary. Massie gives Baker a grade of F on dealing with climate change. (WBUR)

A day after Secretary of State Bill Galvin ripped his Democratic primary challenger, Josh Zakim, for not agreeing to a “people’s pledge” to limit outside spending in their race, Zakim returned the volley by saying he would agree to the deal — if Galvin agrees to two additional debates before September 4 primary in addition to the one radio debate they already have scheduled. (Boston Globe)

Two of the candidates running to replace Eileen Donoghue in the state Senate are Lowell city councilors, and they are taking different stances on whether they will step down as a councilor immediately if elected. (Lowell Sun)

Michael Graham, who is not in the habit of advising Democrats on electoral strategy, nonetheless says he is only trying to help them cut their losses when he urges the party not to look to a Massachusetts pol to head the 2020 national ticket. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Housing advocates say the discovery of several people living in storage units in Dorchester this week is another sign of the housing affordability crisis facing the region. (Boston Herald)

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, an advocacy group that includes the CEOs of many big Bay State companies, is looking to expand its reach by hiring a Washington, DC, lobbying firm to push for more federal investments here. (Boston Globe)

A fish market in Falmouth has voluntarily recalled nearly 10,000 quahogs it sold that were purchased from a man arrested for catching the shellfish from a contaminated pond. (Cape Cod Times)

Brew-haha: The controversy that erupted in the wake of Sam Adams founder Jim Koch’s recent visit to the White House underscores how charged any interactions with President Trump are, say business leaders and communication and branding consultants. (Boston Globe)

Advocates are urging nail salon owners and regulators to follow the lead of Massachusetts and the state of Washington in adopting policies to reduce the use of toxic chemicals that can have harmful health effects on nail technicians and customers. (U.S. News & World Report)

MassMutual takes its name off the Tower Square building in Springfield, which the company sold recently to a group of investors. (MassLive)

CEO pay at the country’s biggest corporations jumped to an average of nearly $19 million last year, fueling further concern of a growing gulf between the nation’s richest people and everyone else. (Washington Post)

ARTS

The neon sign at the old Siesta Hotel in Saugus becomes an art installation on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. (Daily Item)

EDUCATION

Brockton school officials will bring back 15 more laid-off teachers after the state came through with more Chapter 70 money than anticipated. (The Enterprise)

RELIGION

Cardinal Sean O’Malley has cancelled a planned trip to Ireland in order to focus on the investigation he has ordered into allegations of sexual misconduct at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Pay for the leaders of the state’s nonprofit hospitals, who earn seven-figure salaries, continues to rise. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Susan Ely, a staff attorney at the Natural Resources Council of Maine tells the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities that the contracts to import hydro-electricity from Hydro-Quebec via a transmission line through Maine are bad for Maine and Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

The state, after pouring $5 million in repairs, is reopening the campground at Massasoit State Park in Taunton 10 years after a lightning strike damaged the area and knocked out the park’s underground electrical system. (Taunton Gazette)

A 61-year-old man was attacked by a shark as he stood in the water about 30 yards off-shore at a Truro public beach. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Massachusetts district attorneys and defense lawyers agree to expand the number of breathalyzer cases dismissed because of questions about their accuracy. (MassLive)

MEDIA

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas rips the Globe’s “whining campaign” and says the Globe has shut down more newspapers in Boston than Donald Trump.

PASSINGS

R-e-s-p-e-c-t: The “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, has died at age 76. (Detroit Free Press)