Senate Agrees 'the Press Is Not the Enemy of the People' by Unanimous Consent

An editorial titled "A Free Press Needs You" is published in The New York Times on Aug. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

WASHINGTON — The Senate today passed a resolution affirming “that the press is not the enemy of the people” and stressing “the vital and indispensable role the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance our most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms.”

The resolution introduced by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “condemns attacks on the institution of the free press and views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as a whole as an attack on our democratic institutions.”

“It is the sense of the Senate that it is the sworn responsibility of all who serve the United States by taking the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States to uphold, cherish, and protect the entire Constitution, including the freedom of the press,” it adds.

The non-binding resolution passed by unanimous consent on voice vote.

The resolution didn’t mention President Trump by name, but passed on the same morning that Trump tweeted in all caps, “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY.”

More than 300 newspapers joined together today in an effort led by an editor at the Boston Globe to publish editorials defending free media and the important role journalism plays in a democracy.

Trump lashed out at the Globe in a tweet: “Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press.”

“No one will be happy all the time with what a journalist or news outlet produces,” said the editorial board of The Topeka Capital-Journal, which endorsed Trump. “But being called an enemy — and not of a politician or cause, but of the whole people of a nation — that’s something else entirely. It’s sinister. It’s destructive. And it must end now.”

The Senate resolution notes that “tyrannical and authoritarian governments and leaders throughout history have sought to undermine, censor, suppress, and control the press to advance their undemocratic goals and actions,” and “the United States, including its long-held commitment to and constitutional protection of the free press, has stood as a shining example of democracy, self-government, and freedom for the world to emulate.”

“We swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, including the First Amendment,” Schatz said. “Today, every senator upheld that oath by sending a message that we support the First Amendment, and we support the freedom of the press in the face of these attacks. As Thomas Jefferson put it, ‘our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.’”

“The press’s dogged pursuit of the truth—uncovering and reporting facts, exposing wrongdoing, and holding public officials accountable—has never been more important,” Blumenthal added. “When we look back at these extraordinary times, I strongly believe that our free press will be recognized as heroes—and I’m proud to stand with them today.”