A quartet of journalism professors from various universities across the U.S. have written to news networks asking them to stop airing President Donald Trump's daily coronavirus briefings.
The April 25 letter from the professors states they believe the briefings have become "a platform for misinformation and disinformation" about the pandemic. The professors at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Columbia University argue that only after reviewing and "editing" the briefings would it be acceptable for the networks to air the portions that provide COVID-19 updates from health officials.
The letter concludes as follows:
"Whether news organizations continue to send journalists to these briefings, rather than watching them on C-SPAN and then deciding what to report, will no doubt vary by news outlet. But given that millions of lives are at stake, we demand that live coverage stop before more damage is done."
John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute says leftists believe free speech is dangerous and needs to be limited.
"They want the networks to actually edit out what the president says," he summarizes. "And if you allow this, they would start editing what other officials are saying so we don't get the full truth."
Another portion of the letter describes the briefings as "a serious public health hazard – a matter of life and death for viewers who cannot easily identify [President Trump's] falsehoods, lies and exaggerations."
In addition to sending the letter to ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and CNN, the Rutherford Institute president contends those professors are sending a message to their students.
"What it's teaching … journalism students or any other students is that speech is dangerous – and that if it appears to be dangerous or some university or government official doesn't like it, they can censor it," says the attorney.
The letter is signed by Susan Douglas, Ph.D. (The University of Michigan), Todd Gitlin, Ph.D. (Columbia University), Jay Rosen, Ph.D. (New York University), and Barbie Zelizer, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania).