The Los Angeles Times declined to join a nationwide protest Thursday by newspapers, led by the Boston Globe, against President Donald Trump and his so-called attacks on freedom of the press.
The reason: the L.A. Times values its independence.
In an editorial, the paper explained:
There will be no free press editorial on our page today.
This is not because we don’t believe that President Trump has been engaged in a cynical, demagogic and unfair assault on our industry…Nevertheless, the editorial board decided not to write about the subject on this particular Thursday because we cherish our independence.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board does not speak for the New York Times or for the Boston Globe or the Chicago Tribune or the Denver Post. We share certain opinions with those newspapers; we disagree on other things. Even when we do agree with another editorial page — on the death penalty or climate change or war in Afghanistan, say — we reach our own decisions and positions after careful consultation and deliberation among ourselves, and then we write our own editorials. We would not want to leave the impression that we take our lead from others, or that we engage in groupthink.
Some journalists claim that Trump’s criticism of the “fake news” media represents a danger to press freedom — even though his predecessor, Barack Obama, also attacked news outlets with which he did not agree, notably Fox News.
As James Risen of the New York Times wrote in December 2016 (original links):
Over the past eight years, the [Obama] administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.
Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.
Risen was virtually alone in his complaints.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.