Don’t shoot the messenger. It’s a common metaphorical phrase used in America that is well-understood. Yet with Trump in the White House, the messengers have come under fire with his constant attacks on the media and what he lumps together as “fake news.” Now, the spokeswoman for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is delivering a totally different message today on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, designated by the United Nations in 2013.
This was Trump recently, railing against the “fake news,” such as CNN, which he has called the “Clinton News Network,” tying the network to his political opponent. Trump has called journalists “bad people,” “really, really dishonest people,” and “absolute scum,” as recorded by The Washington Post.
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phony, fake. A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are,” Trump told a cheering crowd at a Conference in Maryland.
Now compare that to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert’s statement today. Keep in mind that she was a Fox News journalist for added surprise. She released a refreshing statement on the U.S. Department of State’s website and on Twitter.
“It is my pleasure to work w/ talented journalists every day, as my @StateDept colleagues do around the world. We support you. #EndImpunity”
“Around the world, journalists work often at great personal risk to report on issues that impact the lives of individuals in all societies. They shine a light on abuses and corruption, expose threats posed by transnational criminal organizations, and counter disinformation and propaganda that spread false narratives. These efforts play an indispensable role in the healthy functioning of our own democracy and also underpin democratic values around the world,” wrote Nauert.
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) November 2, 2017
Heather Nauert’s statement comes as if out of a totally different enlightened administration. It runs completely counter to Trump’s stance, and today, that’s really appreciated, though it still doesn’t change that Trump remains in the White House, for now.
USA Today noted the day for journalists. 32 journalists have been killed this year. Those who also really suffer when the storytellers are muted is society. Those who stand to gain are those who hope to remain in power through corruption.
“Lots of people get murdered, especially in countries where freedom is oppressed and political power is used to squelch dissent. Journalists are not out to create political movements, however. They seek to find and tell truth, to hold governments accountable, and shine a light on the darkness of corruption. When they are targeted, the public loses,” wrote David Callaway.
Worldwide, journalists can face persecution for speaking truth to power, and that is certainly true to an extreme extent in Russia. One Russian editor has resorted to arming the staff of the newspaper, Novaya Gazeta after the stabbing of a radio journalist.
Trump’s continuing fawning over Russia and Vladimir Putin, all while attacking the media raise alarms for all journalists in America today. Today we need more messages of support for journalists and thank Heather Nauert for being a voice for that, even if it will do little to prevent Trump’s next move to erode free speech.
Featured image: Heather Nauert Regional Media Day via Wikimedia Commons