45 Quotes from U.S. Presidents About The Press

In a tweet Friday night, President Donald Trump referred to the media as “the enemy of the American people.” As expected, journalists did not take kindly to this allegation, viewing it as dangerous and unprecedented.

Famed White House correspondent Helen Thomas once said “All presidents rail against the press. It goes with the turf,” and while Trump’s words may be among the harshest and most frequent, he is far from the only president to lash out at the media.

While Richard Nixon is the only other U.S. President to refer to the press as “the enemy,” others have had plenty to say about the role of the press of their day or a free press in society. Some have cast the press in a positive light and others in a negative light. Thomas Jefferson, did both. Here are 45 quotes from presidents about the press:

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Jake Tapper’s confrontation with Kellyanne Conway was a win for journalism

In an interview with Kellyanne Conway today, Jake Tapper sparred with one of Donald Trump’s key advisers for 25 minutes over the administration’s strained relationship with the media and the facts. The full interview is a clinic for journalists on how to respond to government officials, bureaucrats and PR professionals who try to spin their way around the issues or the questions being asked. The full video is below, followed by a few take-aways that can help journalists at all levels deal with difficult sources.

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Is this breaking news?

Granted, if you’ve been following this blog you know that I have a rather extreme view of when news should be breaking, but I’m just not sure this constitutes a breaking story. Your thoughts?

4 things we learned from Sean Spicer’s controversial first press conference

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer left the White House press corps shell-shocked after his first press briefing. The new Trump administration spokesman roared into the briefing room on a mission to rebut reports that the crowd size for President Trump’s inauguration may have been smaller than the crowd for President Obama’s. During his tirade, Spicer cited grass coverings that he claimed were used for the first time at Trump’s inauguration and D.C. Metro numbers showing higher turnout. Both arguments were easily refuted by the press shortly after the impromptu press briefing concluded. When the briefing concluded, Spicer refused to take questions from the press pool. While the briefing itself was unexpected, it did give us a glimpse into what journalists can now expect when covering the Trump Administration.

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Journalists to BuzzFeed: Grow Up

BuzzFeed’s decision to publish a 35-page intelligence dossier about Donald Trump’s dealings in Russia set off a firestorm on Twitter that many of us wish we could un-see and also started a hearty debate over what journalism should look like in 2017.

From the start, BuzzFeed did inform readers that the information they were presenting was not verified. BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended the decision to publish the report by claiming that it was an act of transparency.

“Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers. We have always erred on the side of publishing.” -Ben Smith

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Content is king, but don’t forget context

One of the greatest benefits digital publishing gives newsrooms is the ability to show the context of today’s stories in ways we have never been able to in the past. In print, there are only so many pages, and inch-counts dictate how much news and background information we can give readers. In radio and television, each story can only last a set number of seconds, which significantly limits the ability to give the audience an in-depth backstory.

In the digital world, not only can the text of a story be paired with photos, graphic elements and videos, but we have more opportunities to point our audiences toward relevant related stories that provide more details about the topic they are reading about. This can take several forms, but I’ll name just a few that I’ve seen used effectively.

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Should the press take a more anti-establishment tone?

Riding a wave of anti-establishment enthusiasm, Donald Trump swept the swing states and the electoral college and the Republicans swept both houses of Congress. The victory baffled many in the political and media establishments who were unaware of how powerful the nation’s anti-establishment sentiment truly was.

While much has been written and will be written about this election and the mood of the country leading up to it, one thing is clear in the aftermath: Americans have lost faith in established institutions. A cursory glance at the social media activities of the president-elect’s supporters reveal that not only have they lost faith in the institution of government, but more painfully in the media as a whole.

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“Fake” news has always been with us

This is just a friendly reminder that both “fake news” and the uninformed people who consume it have been around for a while.

Newspaper editor speaks candidly about journalism during the Trump presidency

Marty Baron is the executive editor of The Washington Post. He is also the winner of this year’s Hitchens Prize, which is awarded to journalists and authors who’s work “reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry,‭ ‬a range and depth of intellect,‭ ‬and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence,” according to the Dennis and Victoria Ross Foundation’s criteria.

During his acceptance speech, Baron offered his view of the role and importance of journalism in the face of a president who may be more hostile toward the press than previous administrations.Below is the portion of his speech dealing with this topic as well as the full video of his acceptance speech.

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Is it time to get rid of news chyrons?

Last week, the method cable news broadcasts use to deliver headlines made headlines. While CNN host Jake Tapper was on vacation, a panel on his show was discussing a speech given by Donald Trump supporter Richard Spencer. The text on the bottom third of the screen read: “Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews Are People.” This set off a firestorm that quickly got the attention of Tapper himself, who tweeted his disgust at the poor wording choice.

For the uninitiated, the text feature that runs on the lower third of the screen is called a chyron. While the name isn’t familiar to most, the frequent abuse of this feature and the all-too-frequent mistakes associated with it are well-known.This incident, along with some other recent examples, have brought the practice under scrutiny. Would cable news be better off without the chyrons?

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