To the Editor:
When President Trump complains about fake news, he is not criticizing the news media per se; he is criticizing those news outlets whose reporting on him reads like press releases from the Democratic National Committee. If journalists are free to manipulate, mischaracterize, distort and lie, surely the president is free to call them out on their misconduct.
Thomas Jefferson's defense of freedom of the press is well known, but I doubt he would have considered party propaganda organs as exemplars of such freedom. Jefferson was well aware that some journalists abuse their trade, and wrote in his letters that he deplored "the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them....Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle."