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November 18, 2017

The Fragility of the Free American Press

This Essay argues that the national discussion spurred by President Trump's treatment of the press has fallen short of capturing the true seriousness of the situation. The authors argue that in order to fully understand the critical juncture at which American press freedom now stands, we must expand the discussion beyond talk of a rogue president's aberrant attacks on the press and consider the increasingly fragile edifice on which the American free press sits. The kind of press we value and need in the United States is supported by a number of legal and nonlegal pillars. Each of these supports has weakened substantially in recent years, leaving the one remaining pillar of tradition and custom to bear more of the weight. Contrary to widespread belief, our concern should not be that Trump might be taking the first step toward crippling the power of the free press, but rather that he might be taking the final step in a process that has long been underway.