More than 300 newspapers around the country will participate today in a group protest of President Trump’s frequent attacks on the news media. Each of the papers will publish editorials — their own separate editorials, in their own words — defending freedom of the press.
The Los Angeles Times, however, has decided not to participate. There will be no free press editorial on our page today.
This is not because we don’t believe that President Trump has been engaged in a cynical, demagogic and unfair assault on our industry. He has, and we have written about it on numerous occasions. As early as April 2017, we wrote this as part of a full-page editorial on “Trump’s War on Journalism”:
“Trump’s strategy is pretty clear: By branding reporters as liars, he apparently hopes to discredit, disrupt or bully into silence anyone who challenges his version of reality. By undermining trust in news organizations and delegitimizing journalism and muddling the facts so that Americans no longer know who to believe, he can deny and distract and help push his administration’s far-fetched storyline.”
We still believe that. Nevertheless, the editorial board decided not to write about the subject on this particular Thursday because we cherish our independence.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board does not speak for the New York Times or for the Boston Globe or the Chicago Tribune or the Denver Post. We share certain opinions with those newspapers; we disagree on other things. Even when we do agree with another editorial page — on the death penalty or climate change or war in Afghanistan, say — we reach our own decisions and positions after careful consultation and deliberation among ourselves, and then we write our own editorials. We would not want to leave the impression that we take our lead from others, or that we engage in groupthink.
The president himself already treats the media as a cabal — “enemies of the people,” he has called us, suggesting over and over that we’re in cahoots to do damage to the country. The idea of joining together to protest him seems almost to encourage that kind of conspiracy thinking by the president and his loyalists. Why give them ammunition to scream about “collusion”?
We mean no disrespect to those who have decided to write on this important subject today. But we will continue to write about the issue on our own schedule.
Nicholas Goldberg is editor of The Times’ editorial pages.