This past week, Governor Paul Lepage of Maine made some troubling comments about the press while being interviewed by the radio show WGAN-AM. Governor Lepage not only expressed his opinion on the vileness and inaccuracy of the media, but went on to say that he likes to spread lies among reporters because "[the reporters] are just so stupid, it’s awful". However, that is not even the most frightening thing he said during this interview. He went on to say that "the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be". This echoes the message President Trump and other Republicans in government have begun to spread, that the news that they dislike is "fake news". While lying to the press is certainly not okay as a representative of the people, suggesting that we need to get rid of the press to make society better is absolutely terrifying. Here are reactions from six of our very own writers here at Fresh U, students actively involved in the press, in regards to Governor Lepage's statement about getting rid of the press:
Maya U. Sophomore, University of Arkansas
"As someone who studies politics, I see the flaws that can possibly allow for corruption within our political system, and I think that the founders ensured us freedom of the press in order to serve as a tool in fighting government corruption. It is the duty of the press to hold the government, and its officials, responsible for their actions. Because, citizens do not have the time to heavily fact-check their government, yet they need to be kept aware of the actions of their representatives. Governor Lepage's comments about misleading reporters and wanting the elimination of the press are, quite frankly, extremely disturbing in terms of the values of our country. It should be made clear that he owes it to the people of Maine to be transparent, and that the press is the most effective way of doing that."
Ben N., Freshman, SUNY New Paltz
"The press report on what is going on. They communicate to the people what he's doing. If he wants positive change he needs the press. This isn't a totalitarian state, he can't lie to the people. We need the press to express our ideas, even him."
Maya M., Freshman, Howard University
"I am not surprised that a politician wants to get rid of the press. He is a politician and, therefore, he is always going to be upset that there are people documenting his every move, ensuring that he actually does his job. There are always problems that come with having a free and open press, but along with those problems, there is the constant source of information that will ensure that the common people stay aware of their own community. Those type of statements from the governor are red flag statements that should cause his constituents to be cautious because those are the types of statements made right before the government begins infringing on the first amendment. Our first amendment right is something that makes our country unique down to the freedom of the press and nothing especially some governor from Maine should interfere with that."
Coby O., Freshman, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
"The media is important because it is the watchdog of democracy. Removing free press is the hallmark of every dictatorship because they are the linkage institution between the truth and the public and without it, the former never arrives at the latter. In short, the press ensures that politicians remain accountable to the public."
Sam T., Freshman, Florida State University
"What Paul Lepage said was out of anger toward the media for what he perceives as falsely portraying what many politicians, mostly conservatives politicians, say. That doesn't excuse it, but in a way I think he was just playing to his base, many of whom don't like the "main stream" media for a perceived bias, which is understandable. The press is extremely important to the security of the Republic, and while the press has become more biased in recent years, in doesn't take away their importance. We need an unbiased printing press to hold our leaders accountable, and the day free press dies, the U.S. as a republic dies."
Delilah G., Freshman, Hofstra University
"Personally, I feel completely outraged at those comments. We need reporters and the press simply because we not only live in an ever changing world, but we deserve to know the truth about it. The government controlling the media in this day and age is too reminiscent [of] the 1930s; it's quite scary to think we live in a time like this."
One of the things that makes America such a unique country is the fact that we have the first amendment, which empowers the press to speak freely and openly about government corruption. It is tradition that the press act as the watch dog of democracy. They fact-check statements made by public officials and often challenge these officials on their comments. It is our press that prevents abuse of power and serves as our country's moral guardian. The hallmark of a democracy is freedom of the press, and with this important voice silenced, those in government could say anything they wish.
Writer's Note: Some quotes have been modified for clarity.
Lead Image Credit: Fox News