Senate: Free press is not the enemy
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday went on record declaring “that the press is not the enemy of the people” — a rebuke to President Donald Trump, who declares the opposite on a regular basis.
Senators adopted by unanimous consent a resolution from Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York to declare the Senate’s support for a free press and the First Amendment protections afforded to journalists.
The resolution text was released the same day 350 newspapers ran editorials designed to push back on Trump’s criticisms of the media.
That action provoked a response from Trump, who responded in a series of Thursday morning tweets.
“There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people,” Trump wrote. “HONESTY WINS!”
The resolution: The Schatz-Schumer resolution “reaffirms the vital and indispensable role the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance our most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms.”
“This bill is an opportunity for us to uphold our oath and make clear that we support liberty and free speech,” Schatz said in a statement. “It also sends the message that the legislative branch is capable of functioning as a separate and co-equal branch of government.”
The preamble to the measure highlights a number of past debates, including litigation, about press freedoms. It also quotes from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, stating, “The freedom of the Press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments.”
“We rely on reporters and newscasters to keep our leaders honest, accountable, and always working in the best interest of the American people. I truly believe that America always solves its problems and combating dangerous and irresponsible attacks on journalism is no exception,” Schumer said in a statement.