COMMENT 

Don't worry, it's only the press

James Evelegh's editorial from this week's edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

Don't worry, it's only the press

These dismissive words were apparently said by Theresa May to Donald Trump, last week.

Did she say it? We have the testimony of the US president that she did, so … who knows?

Before he arrived for his visit last week, the president gave a long interview to The Sun, the reverberations of which completely overshadowed his stay.

He subsequently spent much of his time here denying that he had said the things he had.

He said that while the paper's story was “generally fine”, “it didn't put in what I said about the prime minister, and I said tremendous things.”

“Fortunately, we tend to record stories now… We record when we deal with reporters, it's called fake news and we solve a lot of problems with the good old recording instrument.”

Indeed, it was recorded, and the “recording instrument” proved conclusively that The Sun accurately and fully reported the interview.

A complete disregard for the truth is one of the defining characteristics of this president, a man who could argue with utter conviction that black is white, and, unnervingly, have a lot of people believe it to be true.

The president constantly smears reputable news outlets as purveyors of fake news, staffed by “incredibly dishonest people”. In a description we mustn’t lose the ability to be shocked by, he repeatedly calls the press, “the enemy of the people”.

So, did Theresa May say it? Because it was Donald Trump who said she did, there’s every chance she didn’t. But either way, it’s beholden on every western leader to stress to the US president, in public and private, that a free and independent press is the sine qua non of all our freedoms.