Reading the insipid and utterly clueless Aug. 16 editorial “A unified response to attacks on press” reinforced the insight, common these days, that there are indeed two Americas and that we have very little, if anything, to say to each other. But, for what it’s worth, I will ask this: Given all that has happened these past two years under the moralizing rubric of “Resist” and with the intent not to criticize but to delegitimize, how can your side of the political divide ever expect the other side to react when and if a Democrat is again elected president? I can answer the question: The other side will have every right to follow the example which you have now set and they will. At its most basic level, the Constitution is an agreement to disagree. You and others like you have broken that agreement.
Stephen Prescott, Minneapolis
Editor’s note: The writer refers to the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s contribution to an effort initiated by the Boston Globe opinion staff in which scores of American editorial boards responded Thursday to President Donald Trump’s denigration of the news media. As is often noted on these pages, opinion content at the Star Tribune is produced independently of the newsroom, as is common in the industry. However, the discussion at hand is that of the broader role of the press in our democracy. Read on.
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You guys are really pathetic. The reason why people don’t trust the media is simple: You lie on a regular basis. If you just told the truth for once, people wouldn’t call you biased. But that’s too hard of a concept for you to grasp.
D.A. Peterson, Big Lake
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I am a Vietnam veteran. All those who have served in the military for this country took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” Presidents also take that oath. Given that, Trump’s relentless attacks on the First Amendment are profoundly disconcerting. When this country was being established and the Bill of Rights was written, freedom of the press was, literally, at the top of that list. I have never found that capricious or arbitrary. For the president of the United States to refer to reporters as “the enemy of the people” is chilling. A free press, as your Aug. 16 editorial notes, has “a time-honored role in a democracy.” I appreciate the Boston Globe’s opinion staff initiating an effort to have editorial boards nationwide join in responding to Trump’s at-best inaccurate portrayal of media coverage as “fake news.” Coming from him I find that ironic. Was his inauguration the largest in history? Has he released his taxes yet? How much money has Mexico committed to his wall? And on and on. That he has a letter from Richard Nixon framed and displayed in the Oval Office should not surprise anyone.
Thomas Edwards, Forest Lake
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From the day Trump entered the presidential race, the press has opposed him. That was evident when he received only a handful of endorsements from newspapers across the country; some newspapers took the unprecedented step of specifically encouraging readers to not vote for Trump. Then, in the weeks and days before the election, the media published myriad polls showing Hillary Clinton with a resounding lead; the pollsters and media who so eagerly reported the information were discredited and humiliated when Trump won handily.
Neither Trump nor his supporters oppose a free press. But we do demand a fair and unbiased press. Reporting proven facts is one thing; spreading rumor and innuendo like a high school gossip queen is another.
It’s easy to report a story from an angle that makes one or more parties look bad; President Trump tends to wind up on the negative side more often than not even when it’s not justified.
Further, the press has in recent years developed a penchant for inserting opinion and speculation into the news and disguising it as fact, an act that serves no purpose other than to sway public sentiment.
Roughly half the population voted for Trump and supports him. If the press has an agenda to impede the president from doing his job or keeping his position, isn’t it fair to say the press is indeed an opponent, if not enemy, of a good portion of the people?
Jason Gabbert, Plymouth
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I believe reporters strive to be fair and unbiased, and for the most part they do their jobs well. I have utmost respect for those who put their lives on the line when they go into dangerous parts of the world to report on terrible situations so that we can be fully informed.
Mr. Trump will never let up on the media unless they bow down before him and sing his praises. God help us all if that ever happens.
Nancy Nichols, St. Louis Park
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I quote the editorial: “The founders of this nation … built strong First Amendment protections for a press that in their day was savagely partisan, with few pretensions to neutrality.” You still have those protections, even though you tell yourselves you are neutral when you are clearly not. You fact-check by quoting each other, which led to Thursday’s editorial mob mentality.
Steve Zelinsky, Minnetonka
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Might it now become possible that journalists will develop some empathy for the individuals who are hassled or assaulted for wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap or T-shirt?
Jeff Johnson, Brooklyn Park
Editor’s note: The writer is not to be confused with the Republican gubernatorial candidate by the same name, who lives in Plymouth.
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So, the Star Tribune Editorial Board has joined “A united front in support of a free press” with other editorial boards from around the country. Please forgive me for saying: “About damn time!”
The media’s unwavering silence, or pawning pandering, has made it complicit in the whole Trump debacle, where truth is just a powerless word that begins with the letter T, but holds no meaning or integrity.
The media covered, and still covers, the sensationalism of the media-savvy man like a child hangs on every word of a carnival barker. Substance was ignored, and more pressing news items forgotten as all the media couldn’t get enough of the sensationalism. After all, sensationalism sells papers.
So I say shame on you, and also congratulations on discovering your spine as you begin to recover your collective integrity. The Fourth Estate went missing for a few years; hopefully you are not damaged beyond repair.
Stick to the truth. Claim the truth loudly and clearly, and do not waver.
David Berger, Minneapolis
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Thank you for participating in the nationwide call to reiterate the importance of free and active journalism. I believe in the importance of the Fourth Estate. I have watched politicians become paralyzed over the last two years as their own self-interest outweighs the need to stand up against the incivility and corruption of the Trump administration. I was a child when Watergate happened, but I remember my father being glued to the television every night as new information about the Nixon administration was revealed. That cancer was cut out only because of the work of strong and courageous journalism. The need for that hard work sits before you again and I wish you godspeed.
Sheila Moriarty, Minneapolis
PETER STRZOK FIRING
Reactions are revealing
I want to thank the Aug. 16 letter writer who praised the firing of FBI agent Peter Strzok for providing an excellent example of how in today’s America many people seem quite determined not to allow facts to get in the way of their opinions. He began by disavowing any political motive for his letter, such as defending President Trump, then proceeded to recite a list of false claims that contradict the actual conclusions in the inspector general’s report on how the FBI handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails in the run-up to the 2016 election. The IG report plainly stated that there was no evidence that Stryzok’s personal views — or anyone else’s — influenced the way in which the investigation into the Clinton e-mails or Russian interference in the 2016 election was conducted. But, as the letter writer proves, facts just don’t influence the opinions of people determined to believe what they believe against all odds.
Jan Linn, Apple Valley