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US media unite in bid to counter Trump ‘dirty war’

Washington, Thursday

More than 300 news outlets have launched a campaign to counter President Donald Trump’s attacks and promote a free press.

The Boston Globe made the call last week for a nationwide denouncement of the president’s “dirty war” against the media, using the hashtag #EnemyOfNone.

Trump has derided media reports as “fake news” and attacked journalists as “enemies of the people”.

UN experts have said this raises the risk of violence against journalists. The Boston Globe had pledged to write an editorial “on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press” on 16 August, and asked others to do the same.

The initial positive response from 100 news organisations has grown closer to 350 with major US national newspapers and smaller local outlets answering the call, along with international publications like the UK newspaper The Guardian.

Another paper to join the campaign was the Topeka Capital-Journal which said of Trump’s attack on the media: “It’s sinister. It’s destructive. And it must end now.” The paper was one of the few to endorse Trump in 2016. The fact that Trump won without media endorsements may cast doubt on whether the Globe’s campaign would actually dent his support.

There have been some dissenting voices to the Globe’s campaign. Tom Tradup at the conservative website panned the Globe’s “pathetic bid to pretend it is still relevant”, writing: “I would not presume to tell anyone else what to think or what to do. But as for me – and I suspect many others – I won’t be putting any coins in any newspaper box August 16th.”

The Wall Street Journal declined to take part. An earlier piece by James Freeman argued Trump was entitled to free speech and the Globe’s drive ran counter to the very independence it was seeking.

A poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University suggested that 51 per cent of Republican voters now believed the media to be “the enemy of the people rather than an important part of democracy” and 52 per cent of the Republican supporters polled were not concerned that Trump’s criticism would lead to violence against journalists.

Among all voters, 65 per cent  believe the news media to be an important part of democracy, the poll suggests. An Ipsos poll, also this month, gave similar figures. -BBC

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