There is one and only one non-governmental entity mentioned in the United States Constitution: the press. The Framers felt so strongly that a free and fair press was just as indispensable to our democracy as the Presidency, the Congress and the Judiciary, that they included it in the list of freedoms in the 1st Amendment.
While we may not always like or appreciate the work of the press to shine a bright light on our government and its leaders, it was downright chilling to read this morning’s report by Axios on a group of wealthy supporters of the President actively and openly raising $2 million to fund a campaign to dig up dirt on reporters and editors from major newspapers, like the NY Times and Washington Post, and from major television news networks, like CNN and MSNBC. According to Axios’ Mike Allen, who once called Hartford home as the NY Times’ Connecticut capitol reporter, the campaign aims to find damaging information on journalists that can be fed to other “friendly” outlets to publicly discredit journalists who might not cover a certain President or his campaign the way they would like.
Tactics like this can do great damage, not only to journalists who are merely trying to do their jobs, but to the very foundations of our democracy.