Around 200 newspapers will publish editorials on August 16 defending press freedom as part of The Boston Globe’s initiative. Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s deputy editorial page editor, anticipates the editorials will express a variety of views, “but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press.”
“RSF applauds the efforts made by these news organizations to identify President Trump’s hostile rhetoric as what it truly is: a threat to press freedom,” said Margaux Ewen, Director of RSF’s North America bureau. “The level of intolerance for journalism from the White House has never been so high, which has proved dangerous for reporters trying to do their jobs both in the US and abroad.”
The Boston Globe proposed this “coordinated editorial response” to attacks on the press at a time when President Trump’s anti-media hostility continues to escalate. Earlier this month at a rally in Pennsylvania the president gestured toward the press pen and called the media “fake, fake disgusting news,” and in a August 5 tweet, he again used the phrase “enemy of the people” to refer to the media, claiming they cause division, distrust, and even war. On July 25 CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins was barred from attending a White House event after asking President Trump “inappropriate questions” earlier that day.
The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, after falling two places last year. This decline in ranking is due in part to President Trump, who has declared the press an “enemy of the American people” in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, blocked multiple media outlets’ and journalists’ access to White House events, and routinely calls media outlets “fake news” in an attempt to discredit critical reporting. He has even called for revoking certain media outlets’ broadcasting licenses.