‘Fake news’ rhetoric harmful

While President Donald Trump was on the campaign trail, he promised he would “make America great again.” His rhetoric regarding the news media, however, is actually harming our country and undermining some of the principles upon which it was founded.

Early in his presidency, Trump began a heated battle with national media outlets. He used the term “fake news” to describe reports with which he disagreed and labeled those outlets the “enemy of the people.” Now those terms are common in the national dialogue, used by many to dismiss reports that are, in fact, truthful and accurate.

Lumping all media outlets — from national publications and broadcasts to small local newspapers — together under the term “fake news” is untruthful and misleading.

The Times Leader is your community newspaper, and the people who work here are members of this community. We take our mission to provide timely, accurate news reports and leadership very seriously. Our masthead proclaims we are the “Voice of Eastern Ohio,” and we strive each day to fill that role.

We do make mistakes, and we quickly issue corrections. “Fake news” has no part in our business.

For more than 127 years, we have provided consistent reporting on issues that matter to you. We have monitored how local governments are spending taxpayers’ money, what crimes are plaguing our neighborhoods and which teams have been victorious. We have brought you stories of heartache and human triumph, and we have provided a forum where you, our readers, can share your views.

Sometimes we find ourselves at odds with local leaders as we seek to hold them accountable to you, the people. But we also frequently find that those we write about are grateful for our help in spreading the word about important projects, opportunities and accomplishments.

Our nation’s founders recognized the importance of a aggressive, unfettered press. Congress — and, by extension, the executive branch — shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …” they mandated in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Still, Trump continues to lash out at the press in tweets and at political rallies, using language that is harmful to a free press and to our democracy.

Mr. President, it’s time for the “fake news” talk to end.