Celebrating Independence As Free Press Is Besieged

In Media On
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Happy Birthday, America, I guess.

You’re old enough to know that you can’t always have a feel-good birthday. And let’s face it: This Fourth of July just isn’t going to be one of them.

How could it be when one of the pillars of our 241-year-old republic — the First Amendment — is under near-daily assault from the highest levels of the government?

When the president of the United States makes viciously personal attacks against journalists — and then doubles down over the weekend by posting a video on Twitter showing himself tackling and beating a figure with a CNN logo superimposed on his head? (Every time you think he’s reached the limit …)

. . .

The stakes are higher now, as the anti-press sentiment veers into calls for more action against journalists, if not against journalism itself.

Look no further than the new National Rifle Association advertisement. In it, the conservative radio and television star Dana Loesch angrily describes how “they” — whoever they are — “use their media to assassinate real news,” contributing to a “violence of lies” that needs to be combated with “the clenched fist of truth.”

Given that the ad was for a pro-gun group, this sort of thing “tends toward incitement,” Charles P. Pierce wrote in Esquire. (Added context: The N.R.A. chief Wayne LaPierre recently called “academic elites, political elites and media elites” America’s “greatest domestic threats.”)

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