E.J. Dionne’s column (Jan. 31) ends saying that rather than the media being “the opposition party,” as Trump strategist Steve Bannon has said, they are true patriots, the same as the original American patriots — persons who are prepared to vigorously defend democracy against enemies — in this case, defending the First Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits abridging the freedom of speech.

For years, far-right media such as Fox News have been paving the way for biased and false news by reporting news designed to support its agenda (while claiming all other news false). Persons making such claims are now actually part of the U.S. government, including senior adviser Kelly Conway.

In a case where the truth was documented (a picture of the sparse crowd at the Trump inauguration) and could not be denied, Conway claimed that they were presenting “alternate facts.” The similarity of that phrase with “newspeak,” the invented language of the totalitarian government in the book “1984,” is obvious: an attempt to suppress the truth and promote a lie and call the lie by another name.

The White House may even attempt to allow only White House press corps who report only what the White House wants the public to hear and bar all others.

Such actions are hallmarks of totalitarianism: anyone who doesn’t support us is lying and is the enemy, and anything we say is the truth.

These are dangerous times and the free press must be true patriots.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” — Wendell Phillips.

Jeff Christiansen, Gorham

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