Over the last two-plus years, Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to journalists as enemies of the people. He has criticized the press, canceled a few press passes and even called out individual journalists by name.
And throughout that time, there has been a consistent outcry among the major media organizations. But despite Trump’s fairly regular outcry, one thing he has not done is use the federal law enforcement in an attempt to take any reporter or organization down.
There have been a lot of leaks of out Washington D.C. and plenty of stories on CNN, in the New York Times and other networks and newspapers. But despite whining, Trump has actually done little to hinder journalism.
A few weeks ago in San Francisco, the city government also had a problem with a story written by a local reporter. Someone, likely within the San Francisco Police Department, leaked a copy of a police report to Bryan Carmody, related to the death of a public defender. Carmody used that information to write a story.
Once the story was published, the city government in San Francisco wanted to know where Carmody got the report. As is customary in journalism, Carmody refused to give up his source. In most cases, that would have been the end of it. Maybe there would have been an internal investigation in the police department, but Carmody would have been free to continue to work.
But not in San Francisco. A city that routinely touts the value of a free press went another route. The city secretly went to court and got two judges to sign off on warrants.
The next morning, police arrived at Carmody’s home, knocked the door down with a sledge hammer, entered with guns drawn and seized his computer, notes and other equipment. Carmody was placed in handcuffs for six hours before finally being released, but his personal equipment has still not been released.
This, my friends, is a real attack on the free press. Donald Trump being a jerk is troubling, but while Trump’s rhetoric may have led to a level of distrust in the press, I have never heard anyone accuse him of knocking down doors, handcuffing reporters and taking their equipment because he didn’t like a story.
What the police in San Francisco did, which was defended by the mayor, is likely a violation of California’s Shield Law, and either way it’s a gross violation of press freedom.
A free press is vital in the United States. As a country, reporters and news organizations telling secrets keeps the government in check. And trust me, we need to keep the government in check.
What we don’t need are news organizations defending a free press only when it’s Trump criticizing the press.
Last week, Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat running for president, said she would not go on Fox News because it’s a “hate-for-profit racket.” She wrote, “Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet.”
I disagree with Warren, but she’s trying to appeal to the left of her party during the primary, and they probably eat up her words. My concern is how the majority of the major media — CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC and all the others who have consistently decried Trump’s words — said nothing critical about Warren.
In fact, most of them fully supported her decision. It makes you wonder if they truly support or free press or just a free press that only criticizes Republicans and praises Democrats.
You see, when Barack Obama was president, he rarely criticized most of the press, but he did much worse. He spied on reporters, tapped their phone lines, denied more Freedom of Information Act requests than any other president in history. He also routinely kept Fox News out of the loop when it came to interviews and news. Seems he only wanted to talk to friendly reporters.
All of that, and never a peep of criticism. Just like most news organizations have not peeped about what San Francisco is doing. A free press is vital, but a free press must also be free to criticize and investigate both political views.