Jim Kenney, the Mayor of Philadelphia, while addressing a group of international journalists on a tour organised by the United States Department of State earlier in the week, took a swipe at the administration of the president, Donald Trump, for the spread of misinformation and attack on the media.
Mr Kenney, a Democrat, said the constant deluge of misinformation from the “very highest level of the American government” is something he has not experienced in his life time.
He said Mr Trump’s use of misinformation is responsible for the growing xenophobia and attacks on immigrants in the country. He however added that his administration is doing everything in its power to resist the spread of the narrative from the White House.
“As a local government, we find ourselves pushing back on the misinformation that the White House puts out on almost on an hourly basis. An example of this is how the federal government terrorises immigrant communities. At every opportunity we fight back against xenophobia and remind immigrants and refugees that they are welcome here in Philadelphia.
“We even took the Trump administration to a federal court when they tried to take away federal funding from Philadelphia for our immigration policies,” he said.
He said many Americans are vulnerable to the spread of misinformation and disinformation as they lacked the skilled to decipher what is truthful or what is not
“This is a fundamental challenge of the 21 Century that we are trying to navigate as a society,” he said.
Mr Kenney said despite the challenges, the roles of the media to provide truthful information and to put governments in check are essential in a democratic society.
“As a public official, I believe it is my responsibility to be accessible to the media and always provide information that I know to be truthful. This is essential because when people can’t rely on the government for accurate information they will lose faith in those institutions.
“Despite the president’s unending attacks on the media, America is still a country with a strong independent press. We need to keep reminding everyone that journalism is an honourable profession.
“Sometimes, when I read a story that is critical to my own administration, I need to remind myself of that fact. An honest reporting is one of the most powerful checks on government in a democratic society. Democracy cannot survive without a free press.
Since he was elected president in 2016, Mr Trump has constantly attacked the American press as fake news for its critical reporting of his administration.