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Who is the real enemy of the American people?

By Richard Shaw

It seems the people that write for this paper and you, the reader, are enemies.
The President says so.
As a journalist for many years I have certainly made some enemies. But I had little idea that it was every one of my fellow citizens. Sometimes I have written things about people that they didn’t want printed. I have made mistakes about some things and when that happens we have tried to correct it in the paper quickly. It’s a part of the business.
But I have seldom been told that I related a falsehood about someone. Usually people that are mad are mad because something has been revealed they don’t like or a quote gets in the paper that they didn’t want to see there. One previous county commissioner used to tell me that I got it right, but “why did you have to write what I said?” Then we would laugh together about it.
But apparently, the main stream media, with our “fake news,” is now the enemy of the people. When the president talks about fake news, he probably is thinking of some news outlets: the national ones that report on things that often don’t portray him or his beliefs as he would like to see them.
Is he talking about a small-time writer like myself? I doubt he thinks about that. But as in all things, when you attack my brothers and sisters in the world of journalism, you are attacking me as well. There are no lines to draw between big time journalism and community journalism. As the former publisher and editor of this paper I often warned even my friends that if they screwed up it would appear. This meant anyone from buddies to those in government that I know around here. Just as cops have the duty to arrest anyone for a crime they might be aware of, or to issue a traffic ticket to their neighbors, we in the media business have a job to do and that is to call out all the possibilities. And as much as I don’t like some journalism and the way it appears, I would always defend those publications’ right to write.

‘War’ on most media?

Mr. Trump has declared war on the media, well at least most of them. A few outlets he apparently likes a great deal. You know, the ones that say that everything and anything he does is alright. From my perspective, there must be something wrong with those news outlets. Government leaders should always be open with the press, but also wary of news organization’s responsibilities. If a press outlet is always coloring someone with a bright brush, there is a problem.
After the continual outbursts by the President about how bad we the press are, Senator John McCain said last week that the government needs an adversarial press. I have disagreed with McCain many times on things, but I also hold him in high regard on many issues as well. He understands the role of the press. That role is not to pat leaders on the back all the time, although there are times they deserve it. The same people we praise one week, may need a kick in the rump the next.

Big time, small time often alike

Covering what goes on in Price, Helper, Wellington or any other area in our county is different in some respects from covering what goes on in Washington, D.C. But at times it isn’t that much different either. This newspaper has frequently cheered the community on about things that are going on, and usually when I take a stance in columns on this page my view supports efforts to make our county better. But along with everyone else who writes in this paper, we have a responsibility to look into things that don’t seem right or are obviously wrong.
So are we, as the bulldogs watching what the heck is going on in state, county or city government, enemies of the people?
This attitude about the press, and the thin-skinned nature of our commander-in-chief worries me greatly. And it should you too. We have often seen those that rise to power in other countries, use that power to stifle the press as a beginning of a way to control the message so they can keep their power. And the members of the press are often the first rounded up when totalitarian governments try to take control, along with others such as intellectuals, people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions that don’t fit the mainstream. It appears to me there is a hint of this very notion in trying to get the American people to hate the press, because once the distrust and the dislike begins, that road of shutting down all that is open or different approaches very quickly.
All one has to do is go to a country where the press is compromised by the government in one way or another, either by direct control or by coercion, and see what freedoms the citizens there have compared to your own. With that in mind one comes to realize what a press that always agrees with the leaders of a country isn’t the road a really open society should take.

A spectrum of opinion

You may not always like what we write. You may not like what someone else writes. You may think that some news sources are biased, and it’s true, some really are. But those kinds of operations appear at both ends of the political spectrum, not just one, not just the end the President thinks is phony. And ponder this. The guy that used to run that ultra right-wing news outlet Breitbart News now stands alongside the president, whispering in his ear all the time.
Do you think he is neutral, unbiased and always fair?
We should ask. Who is the real enemy?

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