“You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now,” Meryl Streep told the audience during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night. “Think about it — Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.”
Well, that last group has gotten a bit of help from the iconic actress’s emotional speech.
The Committee to Protect Journalists received more than 1,000 donations totaling over $60,000 after Streep spoke about the need for a free press and name-checked the organization, according to The Poynter Institute.
Referring to the time Trump mocked a disabled New York Times journalist — and really every other group or person he has already targeted — Streep succinctly summed up why this isn’t acceptable or even productive. “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose,” she said.
To fight against that, she offered a very democratic solution.
“This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage,” she told the audience. “That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution.”
But she didn’t stop there. Her speech quickly evolved into a call to action.
“So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists,” she said. “Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
The committee deals with protecting press freedoms around the world, particularly in dictatorships abroad with little to no freedom. But it’s also fought for those rights in industrialized democracies like the U.S., where it’s more or less thought of as a given — a right enshrined in the Constitution.
And while Streep’s speech drew a set of mixed reactions, drawing the ire of some and the praise of others, press freedom has historically been quite an issue for Trump. Along with disparaging multiple mainstream outlets and denying them press credentials, he once spoke about the need to open up libel laws so Americans can more easily sue journalists.
After he called journalists “scum” and threatened to roll back rights of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists broke from its over three-decade tradition of no politics and called him a “threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists called him a “threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”
And notably, Trump has yet to schedule a full news conference since late July — something that’s highly unusual for an incoming president.
The U.S. Department of State supports freedom of the press.
“The U.S. in particular salutes those in the press who courageously do their work at great risk,” reports its website. “The press is often a target of retaliation by those who feel threatened by freedom of expression and transparency in democratic processes.”
“This work places many journalists in danger, and it is the duty of governments and citizens worldwide to speak out for their protection and for their vital role in open societies.”