Viewpoint

Here’s what’s disgusting, Mr. President

Journalists raise their hands to ask a question as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week.
Journalists raise their hands to ask a question as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week. AP

From an editorial Thursday in the Baltimore Sun:

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.” – President Donald Trump, Oct. 11.

Eager as we always are to fulfill your wishes, Mr. President, we have taken some time to “look into” our ability to write whatever we want. It turns out there is a document called the Constitution that sets out the powers and limitations of the Congress, the judiciary, even – and this may come as something of an unwelcome surprise, Mr. Trump – the president. The First Amendment, ratified shortly after the Constitution itself, reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

How the heck did that get in there, you may ask? It turns out that some people feared that the Constitution would give the national government too much authority.

But surely the author of that amendment didn’t intend it to protect the press from saying mean things about the president, did he? Um, actually, yeah. It turns out that’s exactly what James Madison thought the First Amendment means.

Our ability as the press to write whatever we want to write, even and especially when it is critical of those in power, is not a runaway byproduct of our freedoms. It is the source and guarantor of them. What you find so disgusting, Mr. President, is the very underpinning of what made America not only great but even possible in the first place.

  Comments