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Horowitz: July 4th - Let’s Celebrate Our Free Press

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


Rob Horowitz

As we rightly celebrate the world’s most successful experiment in self-governance today, it is important to recognize that this achievement is due in large measure to an unfettered and robust free press. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” said Thomas Jefferson, the drafter of our Declaration of Independence.

A free press remains one of the bedrocks of our democracy. Despite its imperfections and well-documented shortcomings, media still supplies the information that we citizens need to hold elected officials accountable, make informed decisions, and actively and constructively participate in local, state and national government. In his famous dissent in Abrams v. United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes introduced the idea of the marketplace of ideas—a marketplace undergirded by a free press. Holmes wrote, “…  the ultimate good desired is best reached by the free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”

Taking a moment this July 4th to touch on the contribution a free press makes to the health of our democracy and to propelling Holmes notion of a marketplace of ideas is especially necessary in the wake of President Trump’s all-out assault on media outlets, along with individual reporters and television anchors, who are critical of him or his Administration.   Instead of responding to coverage he believes is unfair or inaccurate with specific facts and coherent arguments, Trump paints with a broad brush, preferring to hurl insults and charges of “Fake News” at any one with whom he disagrees.  He is working to delegitimize broad swaths of the media, attempting to discredit the marketplace of ideas rather than truly competing in it.

Senator Ben Sasse(R-NE) aptly described Trump’s approach as weaponizing the current distrust of the media. This past weekend on CNN’s State of the Union, Sasse said, “There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that and trying to weaponize distrust. The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you don't get to separate the freedoms that are in there."

President Trump and his spokespeople’s persistent efforts to brand the media as “dishonest” and “fake news  can fairly be labeled as theater of the absurd given that the President and his Administration have gained a well-earned reputation for dishonesty due to the record number of reckless falsehoods they attempt to peddle on a daily basis.  An overwhelming majority of the American public considers the President to be dishonest and when given a choice of believing the media or the President, most Americans choose the media.

I am confident that our press will withstand and even thrive in the wake of President Trump’s all out and decidedly un-presidential attacks.  In many ways Trump, despite his efforts to label the media-or at least the outlets he perceives as unfriendly-- as “enemies of the people” has been good for the so-called mainstream media with ratings up and circulation increasing.    Reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post are breaking excellent investigative story after story as Trump’s clumsy and thuggish attempts to intimidate only backfire.  This renewed vibrancy of our media and its demonstrated daily success in continuing to " speak truth to power” gives us plenty to celebrate this Independence Day.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


Related Slideshow: 10 July 4 Parades & Firework Displays You Must See in Central MA - 2017

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July 1 -4

Independence Day Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village 


Old Sturbridge's celebration starts on July 1 and goes right through July 4.

Celebrate Independence day with family and friends at the weekend celebration.

Citizens will have a chance to partake in many different events throughout the weekend including farmyard games, 19th-century baseball and more. 

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July 1

Fireworks at Memorial Beach


The Town of Webster will put on a fireworks display on July 1 at Memorial Beach. 

The fireworks are set for 9 p.m. 

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July 1

Star Spangled Celebration 


Putnam's Star Spangled Celebration begins at 1 a.m. on July 1 and will include food, live music with the Billy Pilgrim Band, cars, sidewalk sales and much more. 

Following the celebration, grab a chair and get ready for the Putnam fireworks at dusk.

PHOTO: Billy Pilgrim Band Facebook

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July 2

Barre July 4 Celebration 


Barre’s July 4 celebration will take place at the Harding Allen Bandstand in the Barre Common on July 2.

The celebration will feature the Quabbin Community Band, who will begin playing at 6 p.m.

The celebration is FREE to attend. 

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July 3

Fitchburg Civic Days Block Party 


Fitchburg's Civic Days Block Party is set to take place on July 3 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

The party will feature vendors, music and a parade starting at 10 a.m. from St. Bernard's Elementary School.

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July 3

Fireworks at Fruitlands Museum 


The Fruitlands Museum in Harvard will put on a fireworks display on July 3 starting at 9:15 p.m. 

Fruitlands is located at 102 Prospect Hill Road. 

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July 3

Rutland 4th of July Celebration 


Rutland will host their 69th annual 4th of July celebration on July 3 at Memorial Field. 

The celebration features an afternoon parade and then fireworks starting at 9:20 p.m. 

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July 4

Millbury Fireworks


Millbury will put on a fireworks display on July 3 with the show beginning at 9:45 p.m. 

The display will take place at Windle Field. 

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July 4

Shrewsbury 4th of July Celebration 


Shrewsbury will host their 4th of July celebration on Independence Day at Dean Park.

The celebration will include food, live music, and DJs as well as inflatable amusements, clowns, and face painting. A decorated bike and doll carriage parade will begin at 12:30 p.m. 

The celebration goes from noon to 4 p.m. and is FREE.

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July 4

Woodstock 4th of July Jamboree 


Woodstock's fourth of July celebration will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at East Woodstock Congregational Church. 

The celebration will feature a food booth, chicken barbeque, yard sale, book sale and much more.  


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