Letitia James
Letitia James

New York attorney general Letitia James wants people to stand up to politicos who diminish America's democracy by relentlessly attacking the freedom of the press and criticizing specific news outlets as dishonest.

At the New York Bar Assn.’s annual “law day” event on May 1, James made that view clear.

“We know that when democracy actually becomes instilled in a society and country, one of the benchmarks of democracy actually seeping into the soul of a nation is the freedom of the press,” she said, according to a report in the New York Law Journal. “With the rhetoric coming from the federal government, and the attacks made daily on news organizations, America is not living up to our legacy as a beacon of transparency.”

During her speech, the AG did not mention president Donald Trump by name, but later told reporters that the “enemy of the people” description of the media must be challenged.

“If we are to defend democracy in an open government and open society, it is really critically important that we draw that balance and push back and stand up against individuals who believe everything should be done behind closed doors,” she said.

The New York Law Journal also reported that Michael Miller, president of the New York Bar Assn., likened the current attacks on the media to the Senator Joe McCarthy era. 

McCarthy, though, didn’t have the means of social media to spread his misinformation and groundless assaults on opponents. 

“In today’s digital age an avalanche of utterly baseless claims and insults are tweeted and then repeated in the social media echo-chamber over and over and over again," Miller said. “Through social media campaigns, there have been serious attacks on the essential institutions. of our government, and real damage has been done to the public’s confidence in these institutions.”

James and Miller spoke in Albany during a law day ceremony at the Court of Appeals.