Newspapers speak up about Trump’s repeated attacks

Newspapers speak up about Trump’s repeated attacks


JUDY WOODRUFF:  Another frequent target of
the president’s attacks is the news media. Today, more than 300 newspaper editorial boards
took the extraordinary step of publishing a coordinated message: a free press is central
to our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the state. It was sparked by a call out from the “Boston
Globe.” Papers big and small across the country responded,
including “The Florida Times Union” in Jacksonville. They were one of just two large- circulation
daily papers to endorse then-candidate Trump in 2016. And editorial page editor Mike Clark joins
me now. Mike Clark, welcome to the NewsHour. Why did you write this editorial today? MIKE CLARK, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, FLORIDA
TIMES UNION:  Well, we felt it’s time for a truce between the president and the news
media. This war of words is not doing anybody any
good. JUDY WOODRUFF:  You write that there’s blame
on both sides. Explain that. MIKE CLARK:  Well, President Trump has taken
his attacks on the media to a new low, no doubt about it. But a lot of the media has fallen into his
trap and taken this on as a war. And that doesn’t help the general public when
they’re trying to determine what’s right and what’s wrong about the media. If we just go to our ideological corners,
people don’t know what to believe. JUDY WOODRUFF:  Let’s talk first for just
a moment, what is it about what the president has said that you think has inflamed this,
if you will? MIKE CLARK:  Well, the way he attacks the
reporters on his public appearances, it actually is kind of scary. And I’m afraid that it’s going to lead to
violence against the people who are actually covering him. Now then this phrase “the enemy of the people”
is something that, you know, is losing all context, you know? It’s like we’re illegal immigrants. I know there’s a few good ones out there. I mean, so his attacks are hurting all of
us. JUDY WOODRUFF:  I’m reminded of your comment,
CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl had. She said when she interviewed then-President-elect
Donald Trump right after he was elected, she said — she asked him why he was so critical
of the media. He said, you know why I do it. I do it to discredit you and demean you all
so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you. MIKE CLARK:  Now, he’s not the first one
to do that. Charlie Sykes in his book talked about how
the conservative media has managed to smear the entire news media universe so that a lot
of conservatives don’t believe anything they hear out of the news media. So, what’s the general public supposed to
think when they see something? That’s rally dangerous to our democracy when
the information universe has been poisoned. JUDY WOODRUFF:  What do you think needs to
be done? You say in this editorial today that there’s
work to be done now on both sides. MIKE CLARK:  Well, I used to be a newspaper
ombudsman for 15 years. And I think the major media outlets that have
some revenue need to reappoint ombudsmen to take — do a little soul-searching to look
at how they’re doing. I think — you know, The Shorenstein Center
in Harvard said the first 100 days of the Trump administration set a new standard for
unfavorable press coverage of a president. So, the news media needs to do some soul-searching
on their side. At the same time, the president needs to lower
the rhetoric. Maybe we can find somebody to do some mediation
between the two. JUDY WOODRUFF:  Why does this matter so much? Why do you think it’s important that we address
this right now, Mike Clark? MIKE CLARK:  The Founding Fathers said this
a republic depends on an information source that allows the people to know who they’re
electing and how they can trust their information. And if the information source itself is tainted,
then the whole republic is at risk. JUDY WOODRUFF:  And the trust on the part
of the public of the news media? How important is that? MIKE CLARK:  Well, we’re hearing now from
people from both sides of the spectrum that are going to their respective corners, they’re
only trusting their particular favorite media. And that’s not going to work when we have
some big issues that require all of us to work together. We need to have some common ground on information,
and right now, we’re not even agreeing on basic facts anymore. JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, it is — it is a fraught
time, no question. Today, a remarkable thing to see so many newspapers
around the country, including yours, editorializing about it. Mike Clark, with “The Florida Times Union,”
thank you very much. MIKE CLARK:  Thanks, Judy.

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