A Free Press And The Media Are Essential For A Free Society

When President Donald Trump recently declared that the some news media is an “enemy of the state”, he was echoing the words of dictators. One of the first things that a dictator does upon assuming power is to shut down any opposition press. Autocrats and dictators cannot tolerate any criticism of their rule.

Previous Presidents have had problems with the press. FDR was excoriated by the conservative press during his presidency. Harry Truman was also criticized by the press during his administration. Many people remember the iconic newspaper headline celebrating his defeat in the 1948 election. LBJ was savaged by the media over the Vietnam war. Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and George H W Bush all were highly criticized by the press when they were President. The media had a field day with the adventures of Bill and Hillary Clinton throughout his terms as President and beyond. Throughout our country’s history, the press has been highly critical of any President.

Yet, among the most recent Presidents, only Donald Trump and Richard Nixon seriously attacked the press and media. In Nixon’s case, he had something to hide and the press was hot on the trail. In fact, soon after the Supreme Court ordered the release of key conversations on the White House tapes to the public, it revealed that President Nixon was involved in the Watergate cover up from the beginning and he was forced to resign in disgrace shortly after those tapes were released.

Earlier this year, an excellent movie was showing titled The Post that dealt with the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents leaked to the media revealing that the government had been lying about the Vietnam war to the public for years and that it was covered up by both the Johnson and Nixon administrations. This case went all the way to the Supreme Court and the court ruled that the Washington Post had the right to publish the Pentagon Papers. There is a direct line from the publishing of the Pentagon Papers in the summer of 1971 and the Watergate Scandal which ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.

Both Presidents Nixon and Trump have been critical of the media. In fact, Donald Trump is acting like he has something to hide, just as Nixon did 45 years ago. So, what does Trump have to hide? Without the free press, we might never learn.

It has been the free press throughout our country’s history that has exposed government corruption. Just a decade ago, it was the Cleveland Plain Dealer that broke the story of FBI raids on the home and office of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. That investigation and reporting revealed a web of corruption in our county government that resulted in convictions of many people as well as a total restructuring of our county government.

Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, is known for saying “if I had to choose between newspapers without government or government without newspapers, I would choose the former.” More than 200 years after making that statement, newspapers have expanded to include all forms of media; radio, television and now the internet. This modern explosion of the media is making it much more difficult for public officials to hide corruption, self-dealing, lying and abuse of power.  

President Richard Nixon had problems with the media and waged a war against the same media outlets that President Donald Trump is currently at war against. But like Nixon, does Trump have something to hide? We all know how the “media war” with Nixon ended. Will this media war with Donald Trump end the same way? Don’t bet against the media or the press in this battle. It is one that President Trump is sure to lose. Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat history. Stay tuned.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 3:39 PM, 09.02.2018