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The Free Press

On Friday, I was honored to do the wedding of two dear friends. It was a wonderful event by itself, but it had the added benefit of taking place at the exact same time as the inauguration. So, I didn’t even have to consider watching it. Unfortunately, as I was preparing to march with 60,000 other folks back home in Atlanta the next day, I did catch our new president’s remarks to the CIA.

I was stunned that, standing in front of a wall of stars designating those who had given their lives in service of our country, what he chose to talk about was how he thought the press had been dishonest in the way they depicted the crowds that turned out for his inaugural address. Unsurprisingly, he objected that they reported the crowds were smaller, far smaller, than for previous inaugurations. The photographs and thousands of eyewitnesses apparently had been contrived and coerced, and he repeated his favorite line: “The media are the most dishonest people.”

Now, I hasten to say that, as a public figure, I have been the victim of dishonest reporters. In Dallas, a gossip rag reporter tried to make a name for herself by writing a story that sought to trash me and the work I had done. Most of those who lived in the city recognized it for what it was and dismissed it. Of course, it became embedded in the Internet, and I’ve had to deal with its falsehoods ever since. So, I’m not without sympathy for Mr. Trump, but his, and now his press secretary’s, relentless campaign is a danger to democracy.

By undermining the general veracity of the press, Donald Trump is deliberately seeking to eliminate any force that might hold him accountable for the continuing series of half-truths and blatant misstatements he has made. His own party clearly will not challenge his ethical missteps, and, if the public is made to mistrust the press when they question him, his lies become the truth, which is what we saw happen in the campaign. Eliminating a free press is always a tool of tyranny, and, although Mr. Trump’s friend Vladimir Putin does it one way, I think our new president’s way is much more effective and dangerous





Rev. Michael Piazza

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