Chicago Tribune Editorial Board: ‘We Aren’t Enemies of the People. We’re a Check on the Government’


The term fourth estate derives from the traditional European concept of the three estates of society: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The free press, often referred to as the voice of the people, is the fourth estate of society. Unlike the common people of the world, the press can regularly ask direct questions of those in power.

But for the first time in the United States since McCarthyism, those in power openly target the free press. On a regular basis, the President and members of the Trump Administration attack the constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment right of United States citizens.

Now, Trump refers to any press organization that fails to only praise him as the “enemies of the people.” Since his attacks against the press and on the First Amendment escalated, the news media is responding directly to the onslaught with a series of independent editorials from about 350 different newspapers around the United States.

The Chicago Tribune decided to join their fellow members of the free press by printing their own editorial prepared by not one or two of their columnists, but the entire Chicago Tribune editorial review board. This is significant as the newspaper’s full editorial staff covers the entire spectrum of political leanings from very conservative to extremely progressive.

In that Chicago Tribune united effort they stated:

You may have read that, this week, scores of U.S. newspapers are responding in independently written editorials to President Trump’s many attacks on journalists as enemies — his word — of the American people.”

“As this became a national news story, we at the Tribune Editorial Board had two choices: We could stay silent and leave you wondering what message to read into that, or we could explain in our own words the dangers the president’s incitement has created.”

“We chose Option 2 even though we generally avoid group editorial efforts.”

“We haven’t written at length about Trump’s vilification of journalists,” The Chicago Tribune‘s editorial continued. “Journalism isn’t supposed to be about journalists. But Trump has made us part of news stories so often that we’ll take time to talk with you about that.”

Nineteen months ago, Donald Trump swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. One protection in its First Amendment is the stated guarantee of a press free from government dictates, and an implied responsibility for journalists to be a check on that government’s enormous powers.”

“Rather than defending or at least respecting that guarantee and that responsibility, Trump has escalated from criticism to incitement: At public appearances he demonizes the reporters who cover his speeches and his crowds.”

A concern for the safety of the press while in their offices and while reporting directly at events became very real when CNN reporter Jim Acosta was confronted while covering another Trump rally where the President railed against the press as shown in the following coverage.

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