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Editorial: Debasing the media a mistaken approach

Has the United States, "a country of freedom," ever had a president so eager to debase the media?

President Donald Trump labels reports critical of his administration as "fake news," and calls media outlets and journalists who do not support him "the enemy of the people."

In an unusual development more than 350 U.S. newspapers came together to criticize the president in editorials. The move shed light on the apparent crisis American journalism is in.

Freedom of the press, which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, is a vital element of a healthy democratic society. We want to extend our support to American media organizations joining arms in solidarity to draw public attention to the crisis.

Trump's hostile view toward the media is connected with his tendency to shun criticism from third parties and act on his own. He has become even more likely to distort inconvenient reality and praise himself than when he came to power in 2017.

The "joint editorial" emerged at the behest of the Boston Globe newspaper. The paper's editorial criticized Trump's "sustained assault" on the free press, and the Miami Herald likened his hostility toward journalists as Nazi's persecution of the Jewish people before and during World War II.

The arguments are all convincing. The New York Times joined the joint editorial drive, while the Washington Post did not, as it preferred an individual approach. In any case, the sense of crisis is widely shared among journalists.

However, according to an opinion poll run by the Boston Globe, 29 percent of respondents agreed to the statement that "The media is the enemy of the American people." Among Republicans on Trump's side, the figure reached 48 percent.

These trends are likely supporting Trump's posture. He has shown no sign of remorse, tweeting, "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY."

Politicians who attack the media to erode the credibility of reports inconvenient to them are visible in Japan, too. When there is a lack of ethical values in politics, it will deteriorate.

The joint editorials shed light on a dangerous superpower running amok without heeding advice. And that is a danger Japan cannot brush off as someone else's problem.

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