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The First Amendment protects all of us

“The president is an incredible advocate of the First Amendment,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Oct. 5.

Why does that quote matter today? Because the president on Twitter threatened to challenge the NBC network license because he apparently did not like what NBC has been reporting this week.  NBC News reported that Trump allegedly told national security advisers that he wanted to increase the country’s nuclear stockpile.

Nevermind that television networks are not licensed by the government, individual stations are, Trump’s words should be concerning to anyone who values the First Amendment. And everyone should value what is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Maybe Trump believes that the government can challenge a network’s license, or maybe he knows better but simply likes to be a bully. Either way, it is disappointing on so many levels. To say that Trump is an “incredible advocate of the First Amendment” is either a mischaracterization of Trump or a misunderstanding of the First Amendment.

America is great in part because it is a democracy where freedom of the press means just that — a free press. An America without a free press is in many ways no different than Russia. It is a place where propaganda replaces real information. It is a place where citizens are ill-informed and purposefully kept in the dark. It is a place where government corruption flourishes. It is a place where people are no longer free.

Even if you agree with Trump’s criticism of the media, it should scare you when any president suggests silencing the press. How will you feel a decade from now if a Democrat in the White House seeks to silence Fox News?

That is the trouble with cheering the subversion of our democratic principles when your party is in power. The pendulum will inevitably swing and the other party will seek to do the same.

The First Amendment protects all of us from an overbearing and out-of-control government. Any president who fails to recognize its importance and refuses to respect its power fails us all.