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The big news in media land today is that 300 newspapers across the U.S. ran editorials calling Donald Trump out for shit-talking the press—or, more specifically, for calling the media "fake news," "the enemy of the people," etc etc etc.

The move was coordinated by the Boston Globe. Here's an excerpt from the letter in the Globe:

The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful. To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.

And from the New York Times:

Insisting that truths you don't like are 'fake news' is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the 'enemy of the people' is dangerous, period.

The Atlantic:

The president’s rhetoric doesn’t merely spread division and distrust; it is dangerous, and sick. Like all Americans, he has a right to critique the press. But he is also sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution—and this is what he must do.

And, my personal favorite, North Dakota's Tioga Tribune (emphasis mine):

A recent Ipsos survey shows an overwhelming number of people—85 percent—believe 'freedom of the press is essential for American Democracy,' but the same survey illuminates a growing belief among some that the government should be able to silence 'bad' media. But who gets to decide which media is 'bad'? Your guy may be in office now, but what if your side was in the minority? Would you want the party in power to have the right to silence all dissension?

It's a good point! The idea that government should be able to "silence" bad media is truly terrifying, reminiscent of nations more authoritarian than this and/or the 1950s. But here's the thing: While every reporter and editorial board member in this country may get cold sweats at the idea that of the government shutting down "bad" media, when it comes to the private sector, it does seem a little rich that we—members of the media—are literally begging companies to do the very same thing. Look at Twitter, where (literally) every day, people working in media lambaste CEO Jack Dorsey for failing to kick loathsome people like Alex Jones (or even the President of the United States) off the platform. And it works: Twitter, following Apple, Facebook, and YouTube, finally suspended Jones this week.

Of course, private enterprise is not the government and outside of violating anti-discrimination laws, companies have every right to decide who can or cannot use their service. "No shirt, no shoes, no problematic opinions" is how the old slogan goes, right? But social media platforms are not unilaterally opting to kick Alex Jones off because he's a libelous asshole; they're banning him for "hate speech," a nebulous standard that changes depending on who is employing it.

In this case, it's hard to argue that Alex Jones getting a smaller microphone is a bad thing, but this will not end with him. "Hate speech," however you define it, is protected by the First Amendment, but which is exactly why the ACLU continues to defend it. In places where hate speech isn't protected—for instance, Europe—hate speech laws are used to not just silence bigots but to hush political dissent. In France, for instance, the nation's highest court upheld the convictions of 12 Palestinian activists who protested Israeli occupation by wearing shirts that said, “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel." The shirts, the court ruled, were anti-Semitic. If the U.S. had hate speech statutes, it's certainly not hard to imagine the Republican-held Congress, White House, and Supreme Court ruling that Black Lives Matter t-shirts constitute anti-white hate speech. Most of us are not willing to take that risk with the government, and yet we are begging social media platforms to police our speech for us.

Like the Tiago Tribune wrote, "Who gets to decide which media is 'bad'"? Clearly, it should not be Donald Trump, but should it be Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey or people on Twitter screaming for The Atlantic to fire Kevin Williamson because they disagree with his position on abortion instead? Or should it be people screaming at the New York Times for hiring Quinn Norton or Sarah Jeong, both of whom are guilty of posting bad tweets? Jeong, who, over the course of about three years, tweeted anti-white rhetoric many, many times, kept her job at the Times despite conservative Twitter mobs trying to get her fired, but Williamson and Norton weren't so lucky: The Atlantic and the Times bowed to social pressure and both writers quickly found themselves out of work. Sure, call out Donald Trump for his damn-the-press rhetoric, but it would take a much stronger backbone for 300 papers to write editorials on why they will no longer bow down to social media mobs that come howling for controversial writers' heads.

There's another problem with this nationwide editorial: If the goal is to either send a message to Trump (lol) or to his supporters, it ain't gonna work. The editorials were penned by editorial board staffers, not reporters, but most Americans don't know the difference. If anything, this stunt will reinforce the idea that the media is biased against Trump. And it is! Because Donald Trump is a threat to national and global stability and very few media figures outside Fox News and Breitbart are too blind to see it. That doesn't mean reporters don't cover him fairly—most do—but this editorial will be taken by Trump fans as further evidence that the media is out to get him. In reality, the reason Trump's press coverage is so poor is because it's simply a reflection of his performance, but these editorials do nothing to convince Trump supporters that the problem isn't us, it's him.

Of course, it's also possible the goal of this editorial isn't to change hearts and minds but to capitalize on the hearts and minds that have already been won. And if that's the goal, fine. The newspaper business isn't exactly profitable; sometimes, you've gotta fire up those subscribers any way you can.