From the Chicago Daily Herald:
In normal times, the president’s signature on a bill that passed both houses of Congress on overwhelming voice votes would be a foregone conclusion.
Considering that these are not exactly normal times in American politics and that the bill in question honors journalists — whom President Donald Trump has famously labeled as a group “enemies of the people” — the outcome for a bill passed by the Senate Wednesday may not prove so routine.
The legislation, passed by the House in September, authorizes a privately funded memorial to be constructed in the District of Columbia on a site off the National Mall to honor journalists, photographers and broadcasters killed in the line of duty. Its origin stems from the murders in 2018 of five staff members at the Annapolis Capital Gazette by a gunman upset by coverage of his criminal record.
Although journalists in the United States do not as a rule labor under the threats and restrictions of many repressive countries, the Capital Gazette killings are a reminder of the risks that always underlie the profession. The proposed memorial would stand as a symbol of the nation’s appreciation for the role a free press plays in keeping people free, and it would acknowledge the sacrifices reporters, editors and photographers have made in the process of informing people about their government, their world and their society.
These are reminders worth raising these days — not just because of the president’s verbal attacks on the media or the tragedy in Annapolis. For all our crowing about the strength of the free press in America, the United States ranks just 45th on the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index — far ahead of Russia (149), China (177) and neighboring Mexico (143), of course, but well behind Canada (16) and a host.
“A free press has fought for transparency and freedom since the founding of our republic,” said Democrat Ben Cardin, one of two original co-sponsors from Maryland of the memorial legislation. “Those who personify the First Amendment rights granted to every citizen have made our nation stronger. … This new memorial will honor the lives of those who died reporting the news and supporting the media on behalf of the American people. It will be a steadfast symbol of their sacrifice and the fragility of our democracy.”
Honoring such sacrifice and acknowledging such fragility should be acts all Americans can support. Congress, no stranger to divisive politics these days, has clearly demonstrated this truth. We hope President Trump, his reservations about certain individuals or institutions in the press notwithstanding, will also show that such recognition in a free country is simply routine.