The RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force today expressed concern about a new fundraising effort by some supporters of President Trump that capitalizes on his frequent criticism of responsible journalism.
One of the Political Action Committees raising money for the Trump-Pence campaign is now selling, for as little as one dollar each, bumper stickers that read, “FIGHT THE FAKE NEWS.”
“The Trump Make America Great Again Committee is exploiting the deep political divide that currently exists in America to enhance that rift at the expense of the hard-working men and women in our country who fulfill their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Incoming Executive Director, who spearheads the task force. “Our concern is that the bumper sticker will further empower some people to act out against reporters and photographers.”
A recent Pew Research Center study showed that while most Americans support the government watchdog role of the news media, there is a sharp gap between Republicans and Democrats as to whether they feel “that criticism from the news media keeps political leaders from doing things that should be done.”
“Our quarrel is not with people who may choose to display these bumper stickers. The same First Amendment that guarantees a free press ensures their freedom of speech and expression,” Shelley said. “Rather, our quarrel is with a president and some of his supporters who too often use responsible journalism as a foil to inflame the passions of people who either don’t like, or don’t understand, the news media.”
During the past few months, RTDNA has documented a growing number of cases around the country in which journalists have been obstructed, harassed, threatened, arrested, and assaulted merely for attempting to do their jobs. The task force believes there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the increasing anti-media vitriol expressed by many public officials and efforts to prevent reporters and photojournalists from serving their communities.
RTDNA formed the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives. People wishing to support RTDNA’s efforts may reach out to the task force by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.