August 16, 2018 / 6:05 PM / 4 months ago

Senate adopts resolution backing free press after Trump attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution affirming support for a free press and declaring that “the press is not the enemy of the people.”

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses members of his cabinet and the news media as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The non-binding resolution approved by voice vote was a rebuke to President Donald Trump who for more than 18 months has frequently called reporters “the enemy of the people.”

The resolution “reaffirms the vital and indispensable role that the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance the most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms of the United States.”

The vote comes after more than 300 hundred U.S. newspapers on Thursday launched a coordinated defense of press freedom and a rebuke of President Donald Trump for denouncing some media organizations as enemies of the American people.

“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press,” said the editorial by the Boston Globe, which coordinated publication among more than 350 newspapers.

Trump has frequently criticized journalists and described news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions as fake news.

He lashed out again on Thursday, tweeting “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

At a Senate hearing, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai again said he did not agree that the press was “the enemy of the people” but declined to offer a view of Trump’s anti-press rhetoric.

“We swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, including the First Amendment,” said Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat and an author of the resolution. “Today, every senator upheld that oath by sending a message that we support the First Amendment, and we support the freedom of the press in the face of these attacks.”

The White House did not immediately comment on the Senate action.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio

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