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Trump vs. the press

Let's begin this editorial by stipulating a few facts in evidence. The first fact being that President Donald Trump is inaccurate as a habit in his arguments of public matters large and small and he disregards accuracy with such willingness that most unbiased folks could say the guy is a liar without themselves being deemed inaccurate.

For instance, at a press conference he attacked the Wall Street Journal for publishing an article that was not to his liking and reprimanded them for never calling him for comment. Well, even the Wall Street Journal can't call the president's cell phone. But the story had made clear there were attempts to seek White House comment.

He also claimed at the same press event that his Electoral College victory was the biggest since Ronald Reagan's elections. That was obviously not true. When called out on it, he said "somebody" had told him that.

Perhaps it is part of his art of the deal. In the president's public persona, there is only his cause and there is the wrong cause. There is no grayness. We think it has been this way before but never has anyone in modern American politics become president while being so publicly frank about inviting his people to detest people who detest him.

It is also true that the wide body of America's news gathers are ideologically left of center and many on the national level consider Trump's election a mistake or somehow fraudulent and that they must, by nearly any means possible, bring him down.

Americans will make a judgment on President Trump based on his performance, including his integrity. But we think the journalists need to stop making this personal, even if Trump does. If major news outlets don't act and react in a professional manner in covering this administration they will wind up further damaging themselves at Trump's invitation.

We wince when we hear reporters call the president "unAmerican" for trying to "delegitimize" the press. The first question that comes to our mind is who do these people think they are? Yes, a strong and independent press is invaluable to making this country work as a republic but that doesn't put reporters above criticism from those they cover.

People in the media are not special. We do not possess rights and powers that are not available to any citizen. We don't have to get a license to do what we do. The First Amendment may be sacred but the individuals who make their living by it are certainly not. They contain all sorts of characters from across the human spectrum, from great to really, really not great at all. Journalists are not enemies of the people, as Trump asserts with characteristic hyperbole. But they are not always heroes and, no matter, sticks and stones don't break our bones either.

People in our profession need to remember that it is not about us. It is about the country and community. We need to aggressively cover the good and bad and let readers choose their path.