Here is why The Seattle Times editorial board did not join other newspapers in denouncing President Donald Trump's attacks on the free press.
Some readers have inquired why The Seattle Times editorial board did not participate in The Boston Globe-coordinated effort to lambaste President Donald Trump about his statement that the press is the enemy of the people. While more than 300 newspapers signed on to the effort, many did not, including The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
This effort by many esteemed newspaper editorial boards plays directly into the president’s us-versus-him narrative that the news media is of one mind, we don’t like him and are doing everything we can to sink his presidency. That it’s a big conspiracy of “pack journalism” at its worst.
Predictably, Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning: ” … Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!”
The Seattle Times editorial board has very carefully over the last 18 months commented frequently — and vigorously — on the failings of this administration, particularly where it affects our community and Washington state. Offshore drilling, immigration, the environment and easing of financial regulations come to mind. But we have, on purpose, avoided making this personal.
And don’t forget our Nov. 24, 2015, editorial warning against candidate Donald Trump’s “creeping fascism” and our strong 2016 presidential endorsement of Hillary Clinton and against Trump.
Trump’s incessant trolling of fine journalists everywhere and his routine denouncing of the press are cringeworthy and annoying. Could we have published a boiler plate editorial that makes us feel good? Sure. That’s even tempting in these dog days of summer when everyone is on vacation.
But the best testament to The Seattle Times’ relationship with the people — whether through its watchdog investigations or entertainment curation in the newsroom or advocacy on the editorial page — is evidenced day in, day out with the publication of our work online and in print over these last 122 years.
In recent weeks, The Seattle Times has been running a full-page house ad featuring a letter from Publisher Frank Blethen that discusses this legacy and our efforts to adapt to challenges of our business model. We are leading the industry in innovative community-funded journalism for Education Lab, Traffic Lab and Project Homeless, among other efforts. Why? Because this benefits our community.
In his letter, Blethen spoke for the role of The Seattle Times and free press in our community:
“Through the years, our Free Press evolved into a national system of local, independent newspapers accountable to the communities they lived in,” the publisher wrote. “This collection of diverse local voices became the underpinnings of a robust nation comprised of vibrant communities. Until recently.
“Today, our Free Press is on life support. Consolidated absentee control and loss of localism imperils the health and future of our democracy. But not in Greater Seattle and Washington state. Here, The Seattle Times remains one of only five top 50 metro newspapers which is local, private and integral to the community’s fabric.”
That last point is important in this consideration. The Seattle Times prides itself on its independence. Leaders of both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times editorial boards made this point as well in explaining their reasons for not participating in the editorial callout.
So, The Seattle Times did not run an editorial Thursday saying, “No, we are NOT the enemy of the people.” We don’t have to. We prove it every day.