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News Every Day |

Only a free press can save us from a second Trump term

Only a free press can save us from a second Trump term

Did he do it? Let me ask you to be the journalist here.

Did former President Donald Trump agree to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about a sexual affair between the two?

Based on signed receipts and testimony from Daniels, a tabloid editor and Trump’s former employee, a jury of 12 Americans said yes. They found him guilty on 34 counts of misrepresenting this expense on his company's books in furtherance of another crime.

This is where 21st century journalism fails.

Sensational rumors and conspiracies about the case generate clicks on social media and big ratings on radio and television. So journalists become distracted from the truth of this felony conviction.

What do people writing and broadcasting today’s first draft of history do when Trump’s supporters make denial of the truth into a loyalty test and turn away from the truth of a jury verdict?

Journalists’ pens and cameras can’t turn away from the circus as congressional Republicans appear outside the court — operating in fear of Trump’s power over their party — to join him in undermining the truth of his guilt.

Television showed prominent Republicans standing outside of Trump’s trial and basically repeating Trump’s lie that a “fascist” government has him on trial.

There is no mention from reporters that, with no proposals to improve the economy, stop gun violence or even reform immigration, these congressional Republicans are cynically trying to rev up right wing radio shows and donations by justifying Trump’s baseless, provocative claims.

How many times can reporters note that there is no truth to the claim that President Biden ordered this prosecution to punish a political rival?

Today, reporters just flatly report that Sen. Marco Rubio (R- Fla.) writes that President Biden is “a demented man propped up by wicked & deranged people,” and then use symbols of fire to call for payback against Democrats.

There are also efforts to shut up truth-telling by journalists.

For example, when a television host, Shannon Bream of Fox News, accurately noted that Trump was found guilty in a state trial, with no connection to the federal Department of Justice, Trump jumped to attack her.

If she did a show with another truth-teller, Trump wrote, “the ratings wouldn’t be good, because they’re anti-MAGA,” which is to say, out of step with the Trump-led “Make America Great Again,” movement.  

As part of his attempt to divert attention from facts, Trump also urged his supporters to tar the trial judge as biased.

They even sheepishly stand by Trump as he stirs anti-Jewish and anti-Black passions among his mostly white and evangelical Christian supporters by calling Alvin Bragg, the black New York prosecutor, a puppet of Jewish billionaire George Soros. He suggested political donations from the wealthy man gave him control over the prosecutor. 

But the fact is, no such donation was even made.

Before journalists can even set the record straight on such terrible lies, they bounces around social media, feeding Trump’s acolytes.

The fact-based denunciation of lies comes across as a weak story, lacking the excitement of thunderous conspiracies that light up closeted echo chambers. 

Similarly, what can journalists do when the Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), another Trump supporter, announces on national television that he wants the U.S. Supreme Court to “step in,” and rule that the jury verdict has no standing.

News reporting on these corrupt efforts amplify the false claims instead of restoring the power of truth.

The daily barrage of lies and conspiracy theories becomes a commodity of so-called “Info-tainment,” pushing straight news reporting to the side as boring and less profitable. 

It makes it daring for honest journalists to factually report that a major American political party has now collapsed into a cult of personality.

Journalists are accused of bias, called "mainstream" or "leftist," if they loudly point out Trump’s lies and tell the truth, that there are gangster-like threats and vows of revenge for accurately reporting on the cult leader, Trump.

How often can journalists repeat that Trump’s lawyers have told the U.S. Court of Appeals that it would have been okay if Trump, while in the Oval Office, had killed a political rival?

“I mean, what kind of world are we living in?" James Pearce, an assistant special counsel for the Justice Department said in response to the outrageous claim that as president, Trump would enjoy immunity from prosecution even for killing someone. "If, as I understood my friend on the other side to say here, a president orders a SEAL team to assassinate a political rival and resigned, for example before an impeachment, it's not a criminal act...I think that is extraordinarily frightening future.”

Reuters-Ipsos polling last week reported that 68 percent of respondents — including 83 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans — said they were concerned that extremists will resort to violence if they are unhappy with the election outcome. 

A free press is necessary for a functioning democracy. 

Every American witnessing the damage Trump is doing to today's free press should listen to Martin Luther King Jr.: “Time is cluttered with the wreckage of individuals and communities that surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.”

Saving the nation from a second Trump presidency begins with journalists hammering, minute-by-minute, the truth.

Juan Williams is an author and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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