- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2018

With much rustling of pages, some 350 newspapers on Thursday will denounce President Trump’s scorn of the press by publishing their own editorials on the matter. The collective effort was organized by Boston Globe op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard, who insists the press is not an “enemy of the people,” and plans to sound the alarm on the president’s “unrelieved press bashing.”

The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Denver Post are among those joining the fray, right along with weekly papers with circulations of 4,000. This editorial salvo could be a bust, though.

“Most journalists agree that there’s a great need for Trump rebuttals. I’ve written my share. But this Globe-sponsored coordinated editorial response is sure to backfire: It will provide Trump with circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him. When the editorials roll off the press on Thursday, all singing from the same script, Trump will reap enough fresh material to whale on the media for at least a month,” writes Jack Shafer, senior media analyst for Politico.

“Editorial pages of America, don’t unite! Think for yourselves! Reject this stupid pro-press assignment!” Mr. Shafer counsels.

James Freeman, assistant editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal, is not particularly comfortable with Ms. Pritchard’s hope that the mass editorial effort will “educate readers,” or convince them that Mr. Trump’s press criticism are an “attack” on the First Amendment.

“Organizing large coalitions of people to simultaneously express similar messages is generally the work of politicians and public relations executives, rather than journalists,” writes Mr. Freeman.

“The First Amendment does not say that the government cannot criticize the press. Mr. Trump enjoys free speech just as his media adversaries do. Rather, the First Amendment prevents government from infringing on the rights of Americans to speak and publish. And on that score, there’s a reasonable case that Mr. Trump’s predecessor presented a greater threat to press freedom, to say nothing of Mr. Trump’s 2016 opponent. [Democratic presidential nominee Hillary] Clinton wanted to restrict the ability of Americans to make a documentary about her. We don’t recall editorial boards joining together to announce they were not with her,” Mr. Freeman said, adding that The Wall Street Journal would not be participating in the editorial attack.

Some hope that the press has a teachable moment during all this melodrama, however.

“The editorials Thursday will create a lot of chatter. Trump backers will call journalists whiners and journalists will counter-attack. Twitter and cable news will have a ball with it all. And Friday morning we will be right where we were this morning. Divided,” predicts Al Tompkins, a senior analyst at the Poynter Institute, a media think-tank.

“Before you publish your editorials extolling the virtues of journalism, ask yourself: How are you doing with that listening tour? How have you changed because of what you learned? How willing are you to be changed by discourse?” asks Mr. Tompkins.

CUOMO-ISM

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a thing or two to say Wednesday as he publicly signed new legislation to curb sex trafficking in the Empire State. In the process, Mr. Cuomo took a moment to mock President Trump’s signature campaign promise to make America great again.

“We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged,” the governor and potential presidential hopeful told his audience, who were, according to multiple press reports, “stunned” by the remark.

A few hours later, Mr. Cuomo’s press secretary issued a terse statement affirming that the New York governor believe America is “great,” and will be greater then all citizens achieve their potential. One critic had an observation about Mr. Cuomo.

“At 1:30 p.m. @NYGovCuomo says America ‘was never that great’ by 4:11 p.m. he changed his position to ‘America is great’ — he changes his views quicker than Omarosa,” tweeted former White House press secretary and author Sean Spicer in the immediate aftermath.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Anti-Trump delirium”

That’s a handy new term from Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham, who says that Democrats are now motivated primarily by their obsessive and rigid rejection of President Trump and each and every one of his policies — to the point that many Democrats now espouse socialism.

“Anti-Trump delirium,” Ms. Ingraham says, “is pushing Democrats out of the American mainstream.”

She advises that Democrats need “a little less rage, and a little more reality.”

$38 TRILLION, NOT $32 TRILLION

A recent report suggested that implementing a socialist-style single-payer health-care system would cost American taxpayers $32 trillion. But hey, that’s not all. Adding free college for everybody and a guaranteed job paid for federal funds also has a price tag.

The total cost of the top three favorite socialist perks? That would be $38 trillion.

Republican National Committee researchers have done all the math here to discover that The “College for All Act” would cost $807 billion over a decade while the plan to provide jobs at $15 an hour to anyone who wanted one would amount to $5.4 trillion.

The GOP researchers cited facts and figures, from a variety of sources, including The New York Times, Tax Policy Center, George Mason University, Congress, and even Sen. Bernard Sanders himself, who tends to promise these three benefits in most of his speeches.

POLL DU JOUR

56 percent of registered U.S. voters say U.S. security in space should be a priority for the federal government; 69 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent of voters overall say “conflict in space” is a threat to the U.S.; 60 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats agree.

47 percent overall have heard about the creation of a U.S. Space Force; 50 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

43 percent overall support the creation of a Space Force; 64 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats agree.

28 percent overall say Congress should provide increased funding for the Space Force; 43 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,992 registered U.S. voters conducted Aug. 10-12.

• Murmurs and asides to [email protected]

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.