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Everyone invested in the future of American democracy and freedom of the press should read, preferably twice, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin’s Op-Ed in the July 23 La Crosse Tribune, “A free press can never be taken for granted.”

Rubin is a veteran observer of foreign affairs and policy-making. She has developed independent sources of information worldwide, and is unafraid to tell it like it is.

Rubin’s Op-Ed begins: “Earlier this month, President Trump addressed a group of so-called ‘digital leaders’ invited to a social media summit at the White House. The guests included far right social media activists linked to white nationalists who spew out racist and anti-Muslim messages. They included individuals who produce fake videos, use hoaxes to smear Democratic candidates, and disseminate dangerous conspiracy theories. … ‘The crap you think of,’ Trump said to the group, ‘is unbelievable.’ He meant this as a compliment.”

Ron Malzer

Malzer

When hate messages receive praise from the president of the United States, and when he uses “unbelievable crap” as a compliment, we’re witnessing support for the absurdist propaganda style used by the government in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

Taking aim at America’s fact-based media, Trump has been on the attack.

One month into his presidency, he labeled the news media “the enemy of the American people.” A few months later, he defended Russian President Vladimir Putin against allegations of killing journalists and dissidents, dismissing these accusations with “We kill people, too.”

I find that response chilling, and it serves as a reminder of the risks journalists take in reporting inconvenient truths.

Rubin’s essay documents a worldwide trend toward the erosion of democracy. Governments increasingly dominate the news with false narratives and messages of hate. Social media amplify these. And then democracy withers, with the fabric of society being ripped apart.

Cable network news outlets provide some very solid journalism, but they also tend to load up on brash opinions that push aside thoughtful and well-reasoned ones. With their near-constantly streaming “breaking news” data bits, cable news programs can drown out the news with noise.

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I would like to give a shout-out to our print news sources. Two in particular deserve our support, for different reasons: the Washington Post, and the La Crosse Tribune.

The Washington Post, and its fact-checking team in particular, is worth its weight in gold. Glenn Kessler and his colleagues take every questionable public statement they can find, made either by Republican or Democratic officials, and document in great detail how well or badly each claim stands up against the known facts.

Its Aug. 12 report is extraordinarily difficult to read without concluding that President Trump has turned the White House into a falsehood factory. “President Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days,” the article’s headline reports, indicating that the president deviates from the truth at the astounding rate of just under 13 times per day.

The Post team has documented more than a thousand false or misleading White House claims about the economy. Similarly, they have itemized more than a thousand inaccurate Trump statements about the investigation into Russia’s interference in our 2016 elections.

Under our constitutional checks-and-balances system of government, Congress has the responsibility to set limits on abuse of power by a president. Can you think of a single time that either Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), or our own Sen. Ron Johnson voiced a correction to any one of the president’s 12,000-plus counterfactual statements? Thank heavens for the fact-checkers.

The second shout-out goes to the La Crosse Tribune. Yes, it’s gotten thinner in recent years. Cable and broadcast networks and free online content have diminished newspapers’ revenue. The Tribune nonetheless does three things uniquely for us:

  • It serves as the newspaper of record for the Coulee Region. Our births and deaths; marriages and divorces; purchases and sales of properties; the meetings of our City Council — these are the lifeblood of a community, and it’s the Tribune that reports consistently on this vital flow of events.
  • Our morning paper and its online versions give us a quick first overview of major statewide, national, and international developments.
  • It provides well-reasoned, fact-based Op-Ed essays from a wide range of perspectives.

The daily newspaper cannot be matched by any other media in its ability to give us the overall news grounding that we need.

As Trudy Rubin spells out clearly, freedom of the press is now very much under attack. We, the American public, can fight back by supporting fact-based print journalism.

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Ron Malzer is a retired psychologist and freelance writer; you can contact him at ronsaturday@gmail.com.

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(13) comments

Redwall

Trudy Rubin's commentary is "Exhibit A" demonstrating why the mainstream press is no longer trusted.



Both Rubin and Malzer failed to mention Google, Twitter, and Facebook attended Trump's digital leaders conference. And both Malzer and Rubin leave us guessing who was in attendance that they so disapprove of (no doubt to inoculate them from being fact checked).



All Malzer had to say was "Orange Man Bad" and call it a day; we already know he is just another hater of all things Trump. All things Wisconsinites voted for.



As far as the Tribune goes, I dropped my subscription almost 10 years ago based on the unprofessional reporting and distortions heaped on Gov Walker. And there's no reason to reconsider my decision.


oldhomey

It is the beginning of the month. Red is back on here with one of his seven free comments because he is too cheap to subscribe to the paper, like the rest of us. He brings to us talking points taken from Fox and other right-wing propaganda websites that he relies on for his thinking.

PhysicsIsFun

Unfair reporting on Walker. How horrible. Trump and Walker are perfect examples of the Republican Party. They both are terrible!

oldhomey

Thank you, Mr. Malzer. My sentiments, exactly. I think it is especially important to note that, if you are depending on broadcast news for most of your news, you are not a well-informed person. Newspapers have been around for a long time, but they are still a miracle, an institution that can deliver vetted, well reported in depth coverage of the issues we must be well-informed about, and nothing else comes close to the amount of information and clarity of exposition that a daily newspaper provides.

Jobaba

Yes, Trump's tactics are comparable to Hitlers. Trump doesn't want you to hear anything but his voice and his disjointed, rambling comments. Just as Hitler gave out radios that only received the Nazi channel, Trump seeks to block out any other media. Just as Hitler complained of the Lying Press, same-same Trump. Authoritarian demagogues use the same playbook and educated Americans should have seen through it. There are many many other comparisons to be made concerning Adolf and Donnie, but since this column is about the press I will leave it at that for now. Please note that this comment is not directed by hate, but in the interest of educating the population against lying propagandists.

Climatehoax

Taxpayers paying for:

Other people’s college tuition

Other people’s medical debts

Giving Medicare to illegals when they haven’t contributed a penny

People who chose not to work, I list this item last because when that happens, it’s over. Only half the people pay federal tax now, how many will quite work if they get paid not to work.



And you say Trump rambles, well at least he’s not totally off his rocker like these ideas, and I’m not even touching the social aspects of the idiot DemoRats

oldhomey

Climate, if you are going to come on here with your outrageously ignorant rants, please at least try to back up what you say with some facts. College to some extent has always been subsidized by tax money, including rich schools like Harvard and Yale, which accepts federal dollars for research. Federal, state and local tax dollars have always helped to alleviate medical debt for indigent people, and certainly for half a century have been doing this with Medicare and Medicaid. Illegal aliens, lured to this country because employers are desperate for warm bodies to fill jobs, pay taxes all the time. But we don't expect facts from you, of course. Not with the screen name that you use.

Climatehoax

Just found more leftist hate, it’s rampant:

Actress Debra Messing appears to have endorsed an Alabama church's message that black supporters of President Trump are mentally ill.

Oh, those tolerant, loving liberals, I mean those racist, hateful , narrow minded freaks, hypocrites

martian2

OH Hoaxer, since when does this Debra Messing speak for the left or progressives in this country? Sure you can dig up some obscure comments from celebrities and public figures all you want. Doesn't prove a thing. I could do the same to smear the far right wing. Still doesn't prove anything. Trump however is the spokesman for the conservatives that control the GOP, and what he says and does is fair game. You talk about hate, people don't hate him personally, they hate what he says and does. Two distinct differences. The mainstream professional media has existed from the beginning of this country and has served it well despite its gaffs. You can't say the same about fox news and other propaganda outlets who purposely slant and spin the news to a particular political purpose and who combine news and opinion and pass it off as being fact. You are the resident expert on hate here, with your constant ramblings against minorities and migrants. Hate is a state of mind, and yours is one track of constant hate.

PhysicsIsFun

Well ClimateDope you, a Wisconsin Caucasian Trump supporter, appear to be at least mentally deficient.

Climatehoax

HATE MESSAGES SUPPORTED BY THE PRESIDENT??? What in the ef are you talking about??? The hate spewed by the liberal main stream media is overwhelming! Hate spewed by the liberals is unconscionable.

Let’s have a recession that will harm every American because liberals HATE Trump, is that hateful?? I hope the hurricane heads right to mar a logo and hopefully wipes a person’s hard work off the map, and let’s kill a few conservatives to boot! Hate, it’s right there on the left.

oldhomey

My! Is somebody off his meds today, Climate?

johnnybragatti

Trump-Humpers will not replace us. The Orange Carcass may not know it now, but the writing is on the wall. Trump is very much like O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby. A clone of the two.He will get his yet and you know it.

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