Veteran News Anchor Uses Final Farewell To Viewers To Make Powerful Defense Of Journalism
Longtime Philadelphia news anchor Jim Gardner issued a powerful defense of journalism during his final broadcast, reminding 6ABC viewers that the press is "not the enemy of the people."
Gardner—who had solo anchored the evening news broadcasts since 1977—announced his retirement last month. He covered every Democratic and Republican presidential convention from 1980 on and has interviewed every President and major presidential candidate from 1976 on.
His final message offered a powerful counterweight to an often fraught news environment that has faced opposition from politicians like former Republican President Donald Trump, who popularized the term "fake news" and often declared the press "the enemy of the people" for publishing stories about his administration's many scandals and misdeeds.
You can hear what Gardner said in the video below.
\u201c.@Jim_Gardner uses the end of his final @6abc broadcast to defend journalism in America. \u201cWe are not the enemy of the people.\u201d\n\nWorth a watch.\u201d— J.J. Abbott (@J.J. Abbott) 1671665651
"Permit me a final word if you would. The American free press has been under attack, not by forces from other countries but from elements embedded in our own society and even our own government."
"It worries me deeply and it both feeds into and exploits people's lack of understanding of what the Founders intended, the kind of democracy that the U.S. and only a handful of other nations aspire to."
"Thomas Jefferson said to John Jay in 1786: 'Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press nor that be limited without danger of losing it.'" Jefferson would concur [that] no, we are not the enemy of the people."
“Serving the people, you the people of the tri-state area, with responsible and unbiased journalism, this is our mission now and in the future. And if we falter, you damn well better let us know, for your benefit and for ours.”
Many have applauded Gardner's final message to his viewers and reiterated their support for a free press.
\u201cJim Gardner is an absolute treasure. And he's right.\u201d— Meghin Moore\u2728 (@Meghin Moore\u2728) 1671807360
\u201cI first watched Philadelphia anchor @Jim_Gardner in the 80s, before I got into TV news. He's the gold standard, one of America's best. His farewell comments are on point, and I admire him so much.\u201d— David Carroll (@David Carroll) 1671762790
\u201cI grew up watching this man on the news in my hometown and that he decided to sign off on his last night before his retirement with these words is pure character, integrity and genuine concern.\nThank you @Jim_Gardner for your outstanding service. https://t.co/9NMVjnaWg5\u201d— Cheri Oteri (@Cheri Oteri) 1671752334
\u201cJust the fact that @Jim_Gardner made his sign off about the public's interest and not his decades-long career shows alot about his character. @6abc\u201d— Eric Conklin (@Eric Conklin) 1671727006
\u201cYou can simultaneously want journalism to be better\u2026and say journalists are not the enemy. \n\nFact is\u2026those who suggest journalism is the enemy\u2026don\u2019t want to be subject to the openness and transparency that journalism demands. \n\nAnd a free society is dependent on a free press\u201d— Chris Vanderveen (@Chris Vanderveen) 1671813569
\u201cThis is the face of journalism. Journalists keeps us free from the shackles of fascism.\u201d— C. D. Padro (@C. D. Padro) 1671744936
\u201cThis is the reason he was welcomed by so many each night. Hopefully the standards he set will continue\u201d— JoeC (@JoeC) 1671747784
\u201cLove this. @Jim_Gardner is a first amendment warrior\u201d— Brian J. Karem (@Brian J. Karem) 1671751619
Press freedom in the United States has declined in recent years and "press freedom violations are increasing at a troubling rate," according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The organization, whose stated aim is to safeguard the right to freedom of information, notes that "many of the underlying, chronic issues impacting journalists remain unaddressed by the authorities," particularly "the disappearance of local news, the polarisation of the media or the weakening of journalism and democracy caused by digital platforms and social networks."
Indeed, in recent years journalists have had to contend with a more hostile work environment in the wake of attacks against the free press from the right-wing that have only intensified after former President Trump spent his entire tenure denigrating the media.
In a Pew Research survey of 11,889 U.S. journalists conducted from February 16 to March 17, 2022, 57 percent stated that they were "extremely" or "very" concerned about the prospect of press restrictions being imposed in the United States.