Al Seymour

The free press shall not be moved

  • US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany (Photograph by Evan Vucci/AP)

For centuries various regimes worldwide steeped in dictatorial tactics have left a devastating trail of unimaginable human suffering, with regions still in the grip of domination by ruthless leaders who seek power by any means — even it if means the slaughter of men, women and children without any regard for common dignity.

The world press, with many brave journalists, risk their lives daily in trying to reveal truth about the horrors that many experience living under conditions where the only freedom they have is to comply without question or face the deadly wrath of evil power.

In democracies where freedom of expression is a right, which is the case in most of the Western world today, there is mounting concern with the most powerful nation on the planet that the commander-in-chief of the United States has raised international eyebrows over his style of administration, where he seems to have no boundaries when it comes to how far he will go in bashing anyone who is openly critical of his use of Twitter, which many have found insulting and demeaning.

What is so astounding is that many leading political figures and veteran journalists seem powerless in trying to have Donald Trump tone down rhetoric that to some degree has the world wondering what to expect from someone who reacts with impulse to criticism without too much thought of potential political consequences.

This puts the free press in a difficult position because it is their job to report everything that comes out of the White House to inform the American people on any issue of concern. It is no secret that the White House has in recent months been involved in a running war of words over controversial tweets, along with conflicting versions between statements from press briefings, and those made by the President himself. There were so many tense moments during these sessions as reporters tried to get at the truth that the President decided to curtail the briefings to a point where no cameras or audio recording equipment were allowed in the room. This prompted many journalists, some having covered previous presidents, to wonder whether some form of dictatorial tactics were beginning to corrode the ability of the free press to do their job, which is always to seek truth.

After listening to a White House spokeswoman defending the President and making negative comments about the media, a reporter lost his cool and angrily blurted out: “I am here to ask you questions; that is my job.”

He went on to say that when an answer was given that blamed the media for continuing confusion, people around the world say: “There you go, the President is always right, and everybody else is wrong.”

It was one of those moments when for a few seconds a reporter dared to defend his profession as the world watched.

Even the President of the United States should be held accountable for every word he utters, especially when the dignity of the Oval Office is supposed to promote values anchored in the nation’s constitution.

When the President recently launched a tweeting attack demeaning two prominent hosts with MSNBC for giving opinions about him not fully understanding the magnitude of the office, and treating the press with disdain, there was massive condemnation from top officials of both sides of Congress, describing Trump’s remarks as inappropriate and unacceptable.

One top Republican told a reporter: “If I had made such a remark I would apologise.”

Another referred to the incident as embarrassing and a disappointment. What this all clearly highlights is that leaders need to keep in mind their responsibility to uphold values that remain the foundation of democracy. The free press must never shy from its responsibility of holding those in authority accountable and that must be done without fear from those whom feel they can play by their own rules.

America is great country with many great people dedicating their lives to making it a country with truth, dignity and respect for all. The President should be leading the way in keeping that flame of freedom alive. Like the tree standing by the water, the free press shall not be moved.