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Demand That Trump Appointees and Allies Answer the Question: Will You Defend Freedom of the Press?

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From The Nation

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Every member of the Trump team should be pressed on the question of whether they will respect the First Amendment to the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.

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Donald Trump's nominee to serve as US ambassador to the United Nations had an easy ride through the confirmation process, as Democratic senators generally joined Republican senators in abandoning their constitutionally mandated duty to thoroughly review the nomination of Nikki Haley. But there was one essential -- and instructive -- exchange when Haley appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine steered the discussion toward the role of a free press in any democracy -- but especially in this democratic republic.

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"Authoritarian nations around the world are cracking down on freedom of the press. And that is a freedom that is part of the 1947 UN Declaration on Human Rights," explained the 2016 Democratic nominee for vice president, who, unlike many members of the Trump team, actually has substantial experience dealing with international issues. Noting that "even nations that are allies, for example Turkey and Egypt where we have significant alliances, have seen real declines in press freedom," Kaine asked, "What can be done through the UN to promote a free press around the world?"

Haley replied admirably.

"Well, you know," she said. "I think the United States has always promoted freedom of the press. And while those of us that have been in elected office may not always like it, it is the way it's supposed to be. The press has a job to do and we should allow them to do it. And so I think, again, that goes in with American values that we should talk about that. And that's something that I'd be happy to express."

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Kaine carried the discussion forward: "So you agree that efforts to restrict the press would be a clear violation of not just the UN Charter but American values."

"Absolutely," said Haley.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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