(Editor's Note - The Journal-Times is proud to share this editorial, originally published in the August 16, 2018 issue of our sister newspaper, The Morehead News. This is part of a nationwide response from journalists speaking out against the president's attacks on the free press.)
“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”
Those chilling words were first uttered in the late 1930’s by Joseph Goebbels, chief propagandist for Nazi Germany.
Goebbels is considered by many scholars to be the most effective manipulator of public opinion in history.
He was a key player in bringing Adolf Hitler to power and, like many other Hitler insiders, killed himself at the end of World War II.
We believe the Nazi tactic of “the big lie” is alive and well at the White House because of President Donald Trump’s continuing “fake news” claims since the 2016 presidential campaign.
It should be clear to most Americans that Trump is relying on another Goebbels’ principle of propaganda: “A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
Whether it comes directly from the president or his press secretary or
another White House staff member, we are told incessantly that we cannot believe the reporting of any of the news media organizations except those like Fox News which openly favor the Trump administration.
Trump himself describes the independent free press as “the enemy of the people”.
When asked early in his presidency why he was using his anti-media tactics, Trump replied to a TV reporter: “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe it.”
Regrettably, that approach has been enhanced by his almost daily personal messages on Twitter which are seen by hundreds of thousands of individuals.
Trump obviously believes that communicating directly with the voters keeps his message from being distorted or challenged by legitimate news media.
That also works when he exaggerates, when he lies, when he ridicules groups and individuals and when he bullies those who disagree with him.
Thankfully, as long as we have the First Amendment, the free press will help us separate his lies from the truth.