Presidents Day piece examines White House views on free press through history

NLP in the News

The Hill, a Washington, D.C., -based news website that focuses heavily on politics, policy and business, published a commentary by Alan C. Miller, founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project, discussing the history of U.S. presidents’ views regarding a free press. The article, which ran on Presidents Day, looks at this history in light of the current administration’s attacks on journalism as “fake news.”

“Donald Trump is by no means the nation’s first chief executive to take umbrage at the coverage he receives from the press. In fact, presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama have complained, sometimes bitterly, about journalists’ critical reporting,” Miller writes in his opening.

What former U.S. leaders also have in common is an understanding of the vital role of the press in our democracy. Miller demonstrates this by featuring select leaders’ statements on the topic.

Miller also says that “many presidents have expressed appreciation for the vital role the press plays as a cornerstone of democracy — even when they felt they had been unfairly attacked. So, on Presidents Day, at a time when many tend to see the news through a prism of Republican red or Democratic blue, it seems fitting to note this long bipartisan history.”

The piece also notes the important role of a free press in keeping the United States electorate informed. This is particularly relevant as the nation enters campaign season for the presidential election in November. “So, on this Presidents Day, let’s recall those chief executives who, despite their own fraught relationships with the news media, have recognized that a free press is a pillar of democracy. As the 2020 presidential campaign unfolds, let’s be mindful of their words as we look to the press to provide the information that we need to help us decide who will lead our country,” Miller concludes.



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