Huntington Beach, California, United States of America - 2020/05/09: A protester holds a placard reading 'Fake news is the real virus' during a demonstration.  Citizens protest in front of the Huntington Beach Pier, demanding the reopening of California's economy.  (Photo by Stanton Sharp/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A pro-Trump demonstrator holds a sign that reads “Fake news is the real virus” during a protest on May 9, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California.

Photo: Stanton Sharp/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

an ugly strain Anti-press hate is stalking the country.

The latest victim of this virulent, anti-democratic virus is a small town newspaper in Kansas.

On Friday, local police raided the office of the Marion County Record as well as the home of its owner and publisher, acting like a Gestapo. They used a trumped-up search warrant approved by a compliant local judge to seize the journalists’ news gathering equipment, including computers and cellphones. there was a raid very painful the publisher’s 98-year-old mother, who co-owned the paper, died on saturday As a result.

Police were trying to suppress the truth that the newspaper had uncovered about a local restaurant owner who hosted an event for Representative Jake Latner, a far-right member of Congress from the area.

The Marion County Record was doing basic accountable reporting, the lifeblood of small-town journalism.

Running an independent newspaper in America in small towns and mid-sized cities has always required courage. For generations, politicians and business leaders have fought against aggressive coverage of local newspapers and often made life difficult for publishers and reporters. Almost every reporter who has ever worked for a small paper has experienced resistance from the local power structure. I experienced a little of this myself during my first job in journalism.

As a young reporter in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the late 1970s, I wrote a story that revealed local banks were not offering mortgage loans in the black community. In response, the city’s largest bank took out full-page ads in the newspaper for two days directly attacking my story. Thankfully, the paper’s top editor supported me; The day the bank’s first ad ran, he passed by my desk in the newsroom and simply said, “Thanks for the extra ad revenue.”

But the situation has worsened in the last few years. The hatred of the press has deepened in the far right, fueled by Donald Trump and his rabid minions. Trump labeled the press “the enemy of the people”, a fascist slogan that has now entered common use on the right. Physical attacks on journalists are becoming more common in the United States and are now a signature of right-wing extremism; Journalists covering the 6 January uprising at the US Capitol were attacked and their equipment damaged.

Eric Meyer, owner and publisher of the Marion County Record, was stunned by Friday’s raid, which involved the city’s entire five-man police force and two sheriff’s deputies. He told The Kansas Reflector said the message from police and the local political establishment was clear: “Mind your own business or we’ll crack down on you.”

Perhaps it is not surprising that the local establishment that is attacking the Marion County records is at the same time endorsing extreme right-wingers like Laettner, who has not commented on the raid on his Twitter account. Mayer told the Associated Press that “this is the type of thing that, you know, Vladimir Putin, the Third World dictators do.”

(The Intercept and other news organizations signed a letter The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press condemned the raid.)

The unwarranted attack on the Marion County records is another reminder that press freedom is one of the most important democratic traditions under threat from Trumpism.


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