President Trump just doesn’t get the First Amendment

October 15, 2017

It’s hard to believe our president was raised in the same country as me. When I heard the recent words he spoke to reporters, “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” it angered me that our top leader doesn’t get that press freedom is part of the foundation that has made our “great American experiment” work since 1776.

In the United States I was raised in, we have freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which are guaranteed through the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitition.

Just as each American has that same freedom to speak out with their opinions, the news media have that same freedom and use that freedom to help safeguard our democracy.

Few countries in the world enjoy the press freedoms that we have, and most autocratic nations totally control the press, so the public hears only what the government wants them to hear, such as during the regime of Nazi Germany and today’s North Korean dictatorship.

In our country, it’s the duty of citizens to stay informed in all matters so we can vote intelligently and keep our nation safe and strong.

My dad understood that as he watched Walter Cronkite sign off each night with his signature “And that’s the way it is, on (the date and the year).”

Today it is more important than ever to stay informed amid threats from other nations that would love to destroy our democratic ideals and our leadership in the world.

With rapidly advancing technology worldwide, we also face cybersecurity threats from other nations.

But my greatest concern is our president’s attitude that he should be able to control the media, as he could the tabloid press in New York. He likes to call any news that he disagrees with “fake news.”

He has learned how he can shape the modern 24-hour news cycle with his tweet storms berating his opponents of the day, and distracting the press and the public from his many shortcomings and how little he has accomplished.

We must stay vigilant, guarding our news institutions, which serve like our elected representatives — to represent us and keep us informed of matters involving our schools, cities, states and nation, and international news, which is increasingly important as climate, technology, industry and economies keep shrinking the planet we all live on.

As a World War II pilot who made it back from defending our nation from the terrorists of his generation, Dad saw that we have to stay abreast of the news to protect our way of life.

And we must do so today, or we will pay the price for not staying informed.

Dewey Mitchell is a retired public affairs officer with 40 years serving the Air Force and Army, including seven on active duty. He also worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Wichita Falls, Del Rio and Huntsville. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Midwestern State University.

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