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Readers React: The Times didn’t join the editorial fray, but readers wanted us to

Reporters raise their hands as President Trump fields questions during a news conference in Washington on Feb. 16, 2017.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

To the editor: Times editorial page editor Nicholas Goldberg’s decision not to join more than 300 other major newspapers to stand up for freedom of the press was dead wrong. If our L.A. Times was a small, regional paper, perhaps it would not have been so disappointing. If there was ever a time for free press solidarity, it was today. Your loud voice was not even a whimper. Standing out as a dropout wasn’t thought-provoking.

This was the rationalization: “The idea of joining together to protest [President Trump] seems almost to encourage that kind of conspiracy thinking by the president and his loyalists. Why give them ammunition to scream about ‘collusion.’?” That misses the very point of the protest, which was to show the cadre of news outlets that value “freedom of speech” as the most critical pillar in a free democracy.

Victor M. Franco, Pasadena

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To the editor: As a loyal subscriber of the L.A. Times for almost 50 years, I was ashamed to learn that The Times declined to publish an editorial today defending freedom of the press in solidarity, yes, collusion, with most other newspapers in the country.

When I read Goldberg’s explanation for this decision my embarrassment turned to outrage. You said in essence that you didn’t join in today because you didn’t think of doing this first and that you were afraid of what President Trump might think of you.

Martin Epstein, Pacific Palisades

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To the editor: I want to commend you for not participating in the editorial blast aimed at President Trump. Your characterization of the mass effort as “groupthink” is apt; I think it is also puerile. It smacks of sixth grade.Thank you for being the adult in the room.

Katy Berman, Passaic, N.J.

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To the editor: Your explanation for not joining the editorial movement by other papers sounds self-important and a little bit nervous about Trump’s reaction. This was a chance for you to join with others across the nation to condemn Trump’s treatment of the press. Even Congress joined in. My hometown newspaper let me down.

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Gloria Fowler, Pacific Palisades

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To the editor: I am so disappointed in The Times and its decision not to participate with an editorial against the war against journalism being forged by our presidential administration. I read your reasoning and still cannot understand why you did not take this opportunity to stand in solidarity with other news publications across the country and voice your opposition to the president’s comments and actions demonizing the press.

There is a time for independence and a time for solidarity — this was a time for The Times to stand in solidarity with journalists and stand up for a free press.

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Kristen Laskaris, Los Angeles

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To the editor: What’s the matter with the L.A. Times? I opened my paper this morning looking for my local paper’s contribution to a coordinated effort to remind Americans about the importance of a free press in a democracy. I was astonished that The Times didn’t participate.

In one of the most perilous times for journalism and a free press in our country, hundreds of newspapers published editorials about the necessity of a free press in a democracy. I was moved by the excerpts from across the country in the New York Times this morning.

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The Topeka Capital-Journal wrote, “We’re not separate from the public, We are the public. We live and work and play in Topeka and surrounding areas. We go to restaurants and send out children to school. We drive the same roads, see the same doctors. We’re not the enemy of the people. We are the people.”

We all could benefit from that reminder — even those of us who live, work and play in Los Angeles.

Carol L. King, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Upon learning Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong was purchasing The Times, I was optimistic that it would once again be an engaged newspaper with a vibrant voice. To quote Soon-Shiong: “As someone who grew up in apartheid South Africa, I understand the role that journalism needs to play in a free society.”

Today there are coordinated editorials by an estimated 350 newspapers, emphasizing the value of a free press in a democracy, yet The Times is silent on the issue.

Trump, aided by his administration and Republican officeholders, is waging a sustained assault on the free press, one of the founding principles of America’s democracy. Ken Paulson, who heads the Newseum’s First Amendment Center, said it best: “I don’t think the press can just sit back and take it, they need to make their case when the most powerful man in the world tries to undercut the 1st Amendment.”

These are not normal times. The press cannot follow its traditional playbook when responding to an attack on its very existence.

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Sam Kaeser, Simi Valley

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook


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