The American Booksellers Association has joined more than 80 book, free expression, and press organizations in expressing alarm at efforts by President Donald J. Trump and members of his administration “to demonize and marginalize the media and to undermine their ability to inform the public about official actions and policies.”
In a statement released on March 2 by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Society of News Editors, the signatories called on the administration to recognize the importance of journalism. “[T]here is a compelling need for highly placed federal officials to acknowledge the crucial role of a free press under our Constitution and the responsibility of government officials to recognize it,” the statement said. “The job of the press is not to please the President but to inform the public, a function that is essential to democracy.”
The statement cited numerous examples of the administration’s hostility to the press: President Trump’s refusal to answer questions posed by a CNN reporter because the network promotes “fake news”; the accusation that the media had “manipulated” images of the inauguration; false claims that the media had covered up terrorist attacks; and repeated assertions that the media is “failing” and “dishonest.”
The statement also condemned Trump’s recent characterization of the New York Times, CBS, CNN, ABC, and NBC as “the enemy of the American people.” Journalists representing these organizations and other media organizations were later prevented from attending a news briefing at the White House.
The statement on press freedom was also signed by the American Library Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American University Presses, the Association of Research Libraries, the Authors Guild, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and PEN America, among others.