• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Fearless and Free Press is Essential to Our Democracy

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Make no mistake about it, the individual sitting in the highest office of our nation is trying to destroy the foundational institution upon which our democracy was founded — a fearless and free press. And why would anyone who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, including the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and press, do so? Because unlike his ever-changing coterie of hired and appointed sycophants, our 325 million citizens must rely on a free press to sift fact from fiction. And without a free press, the truth is buried beneath the lies that spill endlessly from his lips.

As Trump put it during the misnamed “social media summit” hosted by his right-wing supporters last week: “See, I don’t think that the mainstream media is free speech either because it’s so crooked. It’s so dishonest. So to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me, that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”

Compare Trump’s interpretation with what some of our founding fathers and great minds have said about a free press.

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

—Thomas Jefferson

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

—Benjamin Franklin

“The freedom of the press should be inviolate.”

—John Quincy Adams

“When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”

—Christopher Dodd

“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”

—George Orwell

Why do we need a free and fearless press in Montana?

To tell us the truth when Greg Gianforte body-slams a harmless reporter and then lies openly about it.

To tell us what’s going on as Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency and ARCO-BP try to scuttle out of Butte and Anaconda after 40 years of mostly burying toxic wastes beneath a thin blanket of soil and grass so they don’t have to follow Montana’s Constitutional mandate that “all lands disturbed by the taking of natural resources shall be reclaimed.”

To let us know who is spending how much on which politicians to purchase “the best government money can buy.”

To tell us that the endless string of innocent sounding phrases increasingly used by the U.S. Forest Service actually mean plain old clear-cutting.

To report when they catch highly positioned and well-paid government officials with their hands deep in the public till.

To keep us informed of pending decisions by public policymakers and give citizens the chance to participate in the matters that affect our lives before the votes are cast or the decisions finalized.

To bring us the Opinion Page, where diverse opinions about the current state of affairs can be published and read, letting the public draw its own conclusions.

Our democracy has survived nearly two and a half centuries with our Constitutional guarantee of a free press vital and intact and we will survive this authoritarian and benighted blight on the presidency. And in the final analysis, it is not the free press that is Donald Trump’s enemy — it’s the truth that he doesn’t want us to hear, read or know.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail