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'Globe' And Other Newspapers Stand Together: 'Journalists Are Not The Enemy'


Editorial in The Boston Globe this morning has this headline - "Journalists Are Not The Enemy." This comes in response to President Trump's attacks. He has called the media the enemy of the American people. The Globe asked other newspapers to join them today in running editorials like this, and about 350 publications across the country heeded the call. Let's bring in NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik to talk about this.

Good morning, David.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So what is the message to these publications are trying to send today?

FOLKENFLIK: I think you've captured it nicely. I think that they are concerned about the way in which the president in - you know, his rhetoric, it's kind of the Trump Twitter tirade rhetoric presidency. When it comes to its relationship with the media, the role it plays in society, they thought it was time to stand for first principles, remind people they are, you know, fallible, mortal, occasionally wrong but doing their very best and not the enemy of the people, you know, a phrase that stirs up ideas of treason.

They're worried both about what this does to undermine the role they play and about the danger for actual journalists. We've had the time where a former colleague of yours and mine and other journalists were killed in Annapolis.


FOLKENFLIK: Former colleagues of ours were killed in Afghanistan at work, trying to bring news to the American people - hardly the enemy of the people.

GREENE: You know, David, I - even though as tragic as those events all were, another side of this story is the coverage of President Trump. There was a Harvard University study from early in his presidency that looked at coverage of him. And it seemed to find that a huge majority of the coverage in his early days was very negative. So I guess I just wondered, does that give this president some evidence to bring to supporters when he says that the media is against him?

FOLKENFLIK: It's certainly grist. The coverage has been sharply critical and unflattering of the president. I think it's worth pointing out in assessing that study and whether or not you think that's bias, which is certainly what he would maintain - evidence of a united front by the press against him that, you know, his presidency has been one of a series of self-inflicted crises, you know, at a time of relative calm both in terms of finance and the world abroad and that, therefore, you know, both by the nature of the kinds of people he brought into the administration, what we've learned about them subsequently, and by the nature of the kinds of policies that he's taken that have incurred such controversy in the country at large, that's going to engender an incredible amount of unflattering coverage.

So yes, for those who are sticking by him, for those who are either Republicans or who are very much Trump supporters, that's going to be signs that the press is being unfair. For others, it may be a reflection of what the presidency is like itself.

GREENE: Just thinking about the optics of today - you know, the president established this antagonistic tone with the press, and then the press bands together. And I guess we should point out it's editorial boards. These aren't reporters. But to many people, it seems like the press banding together to counter that message. Could this play into his narrative?

FOLKENFLIK: Oh, sure. If - I mean, I'm expecting any hour now for tweets or presidential proclamations about the magical word collusion, but this time by the press against him. You know, and other people may point to what happened with the Sinclair local TV stations when they, in unison, broadcast identical editorials seemingly reflecting the thoughts of their anchors. These are actually in the words of editorial pages from, you know, Boston and New York to Kokomo, Ind., to, you know, parts of North Dakota, across the country, small communities and large in California.

And these are, in their own words, people saying we're not the enemy because we reflect you. We care about your concerns, and we are of your communities. They're trying to make the case they're not the enemy of the people but that they are of the people themselves.

GREENE: Including at least one paper - maybe more - in Topeka, Kan., that actually endorsed President Trump in 2016 but is coming out and carrying one of these editorials today protecting the freedom of the press. David Folkenflik is NPR's media correspondent

Thanks, David.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.