In Trump Era, Censorship May Start in the Newsroom

Author: Jim Rutenberg
Coverage Type: reporting
KLRN, 501 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX, 78215, United States

This is how the muzzling starts: not with a boot on your neck, but with the fear of one that runs so deep that you muzzle yourself. Maybe it’s the story you decide against doing because it’s liable to provoke a press-bullying president to put the power of his office behind his attempt to destroy your reputation by falsely calling your journalism “fake.” Maybe it’s the line you hold back from your script or your article because it could trigger a federal leak investigation into you and your sources (so, yeah, jail).

Or, maybe it’s the commentary you spike because you’re a publicly supported news channel and you worry it will cost your station its federal financing. In that last case, your fear would be existential — a matter of your very survival — and your motivation to self-censor could prove overwhelming. We no longer have to imagine it. We got a real-life example recently in San Antonio (TX), where a PBS station sat atop the slippery slope toward censorship and then promptly started down it.


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