The retired admiral who oversaw the raid that successfully killed 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has come out forcefully against President Donald Trump’s attacks on the American media.
The Austin American Statesman reports that Ret. Adm. William McRaven, who now serves as chancellor of the University of Texas System, delivered a talk at UT’s Belo Center for New Media this week where he explained how dangerous it was for Trump to label certain media outlets the “enemies of the American people.”
“The president said the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said during his talk to journalism majors. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
McRaven went on to say that a free press is necessary for any democracy to thrive, and that attempts to chill or censor the press must be fought by journalists.
“I will tell you as journalism majors, as Americans, you should challenge that sentiment and that statement every opportunity you can,” he said, per Yahoo News. “We must challenge this statement, and this sentiment, that the news media is the enemy of the American people.”
At the same time, he cautioned the students that they will harm their own credibility if they do not work to check their own biases and to ensure their facts are solid before publishing their work.
“You have got to have the facts right, you have got to make sure that your sources are solid,” he said.
McRaven, who himself received a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977, is credited with overseeing Operation Neptune Spear, the famous 2011 raid in northwestern Pakistan that killed bin Laden.