About enduring press freedom Featured

Brian Karem at White House press briefingI walked slowly to my bunk and looked up at the television set. Twenty pairs of eyes were on the NBC Nightly News watching a story about me.
One man turned around and said, “Man, you famous.”
Since I was in jail at the time – for refusing to give up a confidential source – and wearing jail-issued underwear as well, this meant very little to me.
Fame is fleeting. Jail underwear sticks with you for a long time.
I thought about that yesterday when my smart phone started incessantly vibrating for several hours on end.

It occurred after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one of the president’s press secretaries, and I got into a bit of a row during the first televised press briefing in a week.
I respect Sarah and press secretary Sean Spicer and much that they’ve done to promote transparency in the White House.
I do not appreciate the president constantly calling us “Fake Media” nor calling us the “enemy of the people,” and I do not like the lack of respect shown the people who gather news in the White House.
The White House press corps is a cross-section of national and international reporters who work hard to ask questions of the president and the administration and they often have been brow-beaten with the term “Fake Media,” by this administration.
We all make mistakes. We’re all human, but there has been among other administrations I’ve covered at least a glancing respect for the Fourth Estate.
I’ve taken to quoting Larry Speakes, the former Reagan press secretary who said the press shouldn’t tell the administration how to stage the news and the administration won’t tell us how to report it.
While the Trump administration firmly believes we shouldn’t tell them how to stage the news, the president has no problem trying to coerce us into covering the news the way he sees fit.
The administration constantly parades favorable media reports before us while dismissing anything they find disagreeable as “Fake Media.”
I know of no one in that press room who doesn’t respect the office of the president and what it symbolizes.
I know of no one in that press room who wouldn’t relish five minutes to ask questions of the commander in chief and I know of no one in that press room who if they had such an opportunity would purposely misquote or lie about the encounter or change a quote from the president.
The Fourth Estate (and here’s my soapbox) is one of the keys to checking and balancing the power of government.
The power of the government resides with the people only when the people are informed.
Those who lash out against us and say it was different in the past and now we’re all a bunch of partisan hacks not only are incredibly uninformed but ignorant of this country’s history.
The cries against the messenger have existed as long as this republic has and for many years before we were a nation.
It is not the point. The point is that faced with a bad press or a compliant press subservient to government, we should eagerly choose the former (apologies to Thomas Jefferson).
With respect to the president, we are not the enemy of the people. We are not pursuing an agenda other than gathering facts and we are not your enemy.
Everytime the president tweets out “Fake Media,” his base becomes giddy and the rest of the country becomes more upset.
It says something that I picked up nearly 70,000 twitter followers in a day from those who are increasingly despondent over the direction the administration has taken.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing for me, but I hope I don’t owe these followers any money.
Still, we are the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
We are the republic and we are the public.
The Montgomery County Sentinel first started printed in 1855 and has been a stalwart defender of the constitution and a free press for many years.
The current owner, Lynn Kapiloff has guided this newspaper since her husband’s passing. She and her son Mark support a free press and have sacrificed so that readers of this paper can receive vetted information in a timely fashion.
We’ve endured and survived every president since Franklin Pierce.
We will endure this as well.
And yes, I endured the jail underwear too.



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