Editorial: The Attack on Oversight

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Today, 100Reporters joins with news organizations across the country to denounce the all-out assault being waged by the White House against a free and independent press, whose protection belongs to the bedrock of our nation.

It is fitting that freedom of the press dates to the Revolutionary War, for the notion it embodies is indeed revolutionary: that ordinary citizens, called reporters, exercise oversight of politicians and our nation’s affairs in service of the public interest. Journalists are not elected or beholden to a political party. They are not paid to carry water for any special interest, religion or politician. They are beholden to their readers–people like you. They are the public’s eyes and ears, in school board meetings and press conferences, on the tarmac and digging through documents to get at the heart of what is going on.

For journalists to encounter resistance, even hostility, from those with something to hide is not unusual. Reporters develop a thick skin over time. What is troubling is that the assault on the press is attacking its very role in a democracy. Credible news organizations that work hard to nail down the truth are branded “public enemy number one,” while those that openly admit to making things up to stoke public fears and bigotry, are praised. The fourth estate is not alone in facing unrelenting criticism from the bully pulpit. The criticism hammers away on a near daily basis, and it chips and dents virtually every branch of government that can exercise scrutiny or call the presidency to account. The courts, the Congress, the Justice Department and, yes, the press, have all come under its blows.

Make no mistake: The attack on the press is not about an Eastern elite. It is poking you, the public, through those who serve as your eyes and ears. It is poking your right to know, without apology, what your government is up to.

 

 

 

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.
Diana Jean Schemo

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