- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger penned a new op-ed accusing President Trump of being a key figure in the “worldwide assault” on journalism.

“Journalism is a human enterprise, and we sometimes make mistakes. But we also try to own our mistakes, to correct them and to rededicate ourselves every day to the highest standards of journalism,” Mr. Sulzberger wrote in a piece published in the paper Tuesday.

“But when the president decries ‘fake news,’ he’s not interested in actual mistakes,” he argued. “He’s trying to delegitimize real news, dismissing factual and fair reporting as politically motivated fabrications. So when The Times reveals his family’s fraudulent financial practices, when The Wall Street Journal reveals hush money paid to a porn star, when The Washington Post reveals his personal foundation’s self-dealing, he can sidestep accountability by simply dismissing the reports as ‘fake news.’”

Mr. Sulzberger wrote that while Mr. Trump has been working to undermine his own citizens’ faith in the press, his “fake news” rhetoric has spread across the world, giving autocratic foreign leaders permission to silence speech.

“In the past few years, more than 50 prime ministers, presidents and other government leaders across five continents have used the term ‘fake news’ to justify varying levels of anti-press activity,” he wrote.

“I have raised these concerns with President Trump,” he added. “I’ve told him that these efforts to attack and suppress independent journalism is what the United States is now inspiring abroad. Though he listened politely and expressed concern, he has continued to escalate his anti-press rhetoric, which has reached new heights as he campaigns for re-election.”

Mr. Sulzberger listed several ways that journalism advocates can combat Mr. Trump’s attacks, including holding “fairness,” “accuracy” and “independence” above all else.

“Our loyalty must be to facts, not to any party or any leader, and we must continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, without fear or favor,” he wrote.

“The true power of a free press is an informed, engaged citizenry,” he continued. “I believe in independent journalism and want it to thrive. I believe in this country and its values, and I want us to live up to them and offer them as a model for a freer and more just world.

“The United States has done more than any other country to popularize the idea of free expression and to champion the rights of the free press,” he concluded. “The time has come for us to fight for those ideals again.”

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