In the face of President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on the mainstream media, the legendary Robin Roberts tells HollywoodLife.com that the First Amendment must be vigorously defended.
Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are rights which every American should rigorously protect, believes GMA Co-anchor, Robin Roberts. “Notice it’s the FIRST Amendment. Not the Fifth. It’s not down the line. That’s how important it is,” Roberts told HollywoodLife.com in an exclusive interview at Variety‘s Power of Women lunch in New York City on April 13. Donald Trump, like every US president was sworn in to protect the Constitution — all of it — and Roberts wants to remind all of us about this essential cornerstone of democracy. “It was important for our Founding Fathers to make it our First Amendment, and I get very passionate about that because a lot has been said about the media,” she explains. “We’re not perfect. I feel I speak for ABC, I am very proud of how we’ve gone about covering this administration (Trump’s), like we have in the other administrations. If we do make a mistake, we own up to it and quickly, but it is so important for people to realize that this is the United States of America. When we’re talking about challenging the free press, NO! No, we need to fight, not just those of us in the media, but the public, as well. They have to realize the importance of a free, independent press.”
Roberts is emphatically responding to the barrage of insults that Trump has repeatedly slung at mainstream, long-established media outlets, when he doesn’t like their reporting, whether it’s correcting his claims about the size of his Inaugural crowd, or their scoops that he was going to fire former Cabinet ministers, Rex Tillerson or H.R. McMaster… and then he did. He has slammed the NYTimes as the ‘failing New York Times,’ CNN as ‘Fake News,’ NBC News as ‘Fiction Writers,’ ABC News as ‘Totally Biased,’ and, you guessed it, ‘Fake News,’ the Associated Press as ‘dishonest reporting,’ The View as a ‘total disaster,’ The Washington Post as ‘Made Up Garbage’ and the Wall Street Journal as ‘so dishonest.’ That’s what Robin is talking about. Donald Trump appears to be on a mission to delegitimize the free press, so that Americans lose their trust in respected news outlets and even start to doubt basic facts. When it comes to this tactic, the “natural endpoint is the erosion of our ability to decide what’s important, have an honest debate, and hold one another accountable,” host John Oliver said on Last Week Tonight.
And yet, the very existence of democracy is hinged on having a free and vibrant press, that has every legal right to investigate its political leaders, including the president, and to level criticism at him. As president, Trump is supposed to defend this right, not destroy it. Roberts tells HollywoodLife exclusively that it’s imperative for “everyone to get out and vote this fall” [in the midterms] and that’s especially true of millennials, who may have felt like, ‘Eh, why bother?’ Nobody is really speaking for me.” She is full of enthusiasm for the Parkland students who are fighting for gun safety laws and to register other young people to vote. “I’m so proud of them!” she tells HollywoodLife.com. “We forget about the civil rights movement and the people that were young, and were out there, and sitting at the lunch counters, being peaceful and bringing around change!”
So, HollywoodLifers — heed Robin’s warning. We all are responsible for defending our First Amendment rights to have free speech and a free and vigorous press, even if you don’t always like the “facts” being reported, or opinions being expressed. And FYI, fourteen 2018 Pulitzer Prizes — the most prestigious prizes in journalism — were just awarded on April 12, all to members of the mainstream media, which Donald Trump has so repeatedly insulted.