This dirty war against the press must end

by Barry, Christie & Ian Johanson
Publishers, The Review

The slander of “fake news” has become President Donald Trump’s most potent tool of abuse and incitement against the First Amendment, labeling journalists the “enemy of the people” and “dangerous and sick.”

We are joining this week with news organizations large and small nationwide to take a stand against this dirty war against the press. A free and independent press is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution.

The Review, based in Plymouth, is the officially-chosen, legal newspaper of record for Sheboygan County, city of Plymouth, towns of Plymouth, Greenbush, Herman, Mosel, Rhine, Lima, Mitchell and Lyndon, the school districts of Plymouth, Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah, Howards Grove and the villages of Elkhart Lake, Cascade, Glenbeulah, Waldo and Howards Grove. Our Sheboygan Falls news is also the newspaper of record for the city of Sheboygan Falls, the town if Sheboygan Falls and the Sheboygan Falls School District.

All public notices for attorneys and special districts in our area are also printed by us.

Folks, that’s a lot of official scrutiny of what our newspapers do.

Every time we hear the new President of our country call the press an “enemy of the American people” because of “fake news” we can’t believe our ears and think about all that is made possible because of factual reporting, all that is made better, all the bad things prevented.

What kind of attack is being made—top down?

Since then the intention of that rallying cry has become of ever-greater concern.

It’s the attack potential dictators always make. Shut down or strangle newspapers like ours, silence radio stations, blur or subvert TV stations, and—in these digital times—boost unverifiable “social media”.

Those unedited places are where people may only see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear, say what they want to say–and never have to discover for themselves the nuggets of gold truth in the cold streams of reality, or be held accountable.

Not long ago we received a letter, which said everything in our newspaper was “biased”. The letter writer didn’t say what bothered them so to respond was like trying to respond to an archer who fires an arrow from cover.

So we replied are you referring to how we report about city, township, village and county proceedings, or about 4-H news, or weddings, legal notices, sports for area schools, activities of everything from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the news of commercial enterprises, outdoors news from the DNR, classified ads from individuals, the names associated with convicted criminal activities, as well as the name of those honored for contributions to the community?

That’s just a short list of our factually verified content.

Others of a starker nature we reported include:

• Revelations that Sheboygan County hired its first Administrator based on lies in his resume. He resigned. The county rewrote its hiring rules. A new administrator was hired, and now the county has the top financial standing for management in Wisconsin.

• The Plymouth city clerk/ treasurer was found to be mishandling city funds. He resigned.

• Plymouth Ambulance Service funds were reported as being illegally used, leading to an overhaul of that service.

• The County Sheriff resigned after charges were reported of her drunk driving.

As a fact-based media newspaper since 1895, these elements are crucial to our existence. When anyone implies that such reporting is “fake” it’s a stab at the very heart of what we labor at 24-7—facts about what’s happening all around us, close to home, where we live, work, shop, play, worship, love and die.

Yes, we are but a small member of the total news reporting operations of the world, but we are the part closest to you. Any media which doesn’t meet our newspaper’s standards of fact, truth, verification and restraint deserve whatever pots of hell they will eventually boil in.

For us to report “fake” news would be suicidal to our survival, and possibly yours. To us, this contrived concept of “fake” news being bandied about is a threat to all of you who trust that we do our best to gather and print true facts.

If mistakes are made, we correct them ASAP. If we miss something you think important let us know so we can review the best approach.

There is nothing “fake” about all that. What is too often verifiably fake is in the heated lava flow of lies from a president who attacks the basic institutions and hard-won, shared beliefs our families, small communities, states and nation live by, and which have raised high standards for the whole globe.

We aren’t living a lie.

When the idea that facts or truth exist is called a lie, that newspapers like ours—yours really—are an enemy of the American people, then anything a person of power wants to say, hear or have believed by others may come to be.

We may discover how soft is the sand our protective institutions rest upon. Ask anyone with memories of Germany, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and all the Soviet Union republics– particularly right now Georgia and Ukraine

This is so dangerous a divergence from our modern democratic tradition and rules of law that anyone who promotes the idea of “fake” news must be subject to even greater scrutiny, certainly not less.

See the associated comment by us below as a horrifying but true example of orphans being used as human shields by the current dictator of Russia, where lies have become the laws of the land.

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