Symson: Trump’s Anti-Media Rhetoric Disturbing
E.W. Scripps CEO Adam Symson, in a strongly worded memo to employees, said the Trump administration is in “dubious company” with its campaign to discredit the the news media — company that includes Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Adoph Hitler.
“Political leaders who attack the press are attempting to discredit the messenger when they don’t like the message. It’s a tactic that’s been proven highly effective,” he said.
“While I don’t draw conclusions about the endgame to what we’re seeing today, the current administration is in dubious company employing the tactic,” he said before listing the company.
“To be clear, I am not suggesting our country will become Turkey, Hungary, Russia or Nazi Germany, but it is cause for me to speak up when we start seeing politicians move to demonize and delegitimize journalism, and a fair number of Americans fall in line and eat it up.”
Citing polls that find large minorities of Americans agree with Trump that “we, the news media are the enemy of the people” and a president should have the power to shut down media for “bad behavior,” Symson said the “vitriol and rhetoric in this assault on journalism is hitting the mark.”
“I’ve long settled into the belief that we live in a highly polarized society, but this isn’t about left, right or center. I’m afraid what the press is experiencing is the kind of demonization and scapegoating that will lead this country down a dark path.”
To counter the attacks, he urged employees to redouble their service to their communities. “Before antipathy is apathy, and the antidote to American apathy toward journalism is establishing and strengthening the relationship between the people and the news media.
“Our journalists and storytellers should take care to report stories that advance understanding. Write copy that brings context to the issues you cover. Above all else, commit to the highest standards of quality and objectivity.
“Our employees who work outside of the newsrooms can be our industry’s best ambassadors and evangelists — whether it be in church, at a ballgame or during a Labor Day barbecue.
“Speak up and spark real conversations about the important role of the media in preserving our democratic society.”
Noting that the charged rhetoric was generating threats of violence against journalists, Symson said that Scripps has been increasing security at its stations. “Over the past few years, we have enhanced our security policies and updated our building access systems, security cameras and in many places added gates to keep our buildings secure.
“Be careful, stay focused on the important work you do, and remember that we have your back.”