Barack Obama and Mike Pence had very different EuroTrips. The first time he visited, the Democratic president enjoyed a celebrity’s welcome. The Republican vice president, however, was greeted with suspicion and misgivings by the European press.

A few days after President Trump called the media “the enemy of the American people,” Pence was asked to affirm the administration’s support for a “free and independent press.” And he did without hesitation. But Pence reserved the right to go straight to the people “when the media gets it wrong.”

Of course, that brief back-and-forth includes some hypocrisy on the administration’s part. More importantly, though, it shows that Pence understands that the American institution is more resilient than the continental press corps believes.

Maybe America didn’t invent the free press, but we certainly made it great. Recognizing it was critical to the health of the republic, the founders enshrined media freedom in the Constitution. Since then, new and traditional journalism has humbled and deposed American presidents. But not once in those 230 years was the free press free from criticism.

In fact, Trump isn’t original, as ABC’s Jonathan Karl points out. While President Jefferson didn’t brand news fake, the wordsmith of the Declaration wasn’t above calling out the press. Writing to journalist John Norvell in 1807, the third president didn’t pull any punches and declared that “nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.”

This sentiment didn’t make Jefferson a power-hungry demagogue. It solidified his reputation as a critic. Unlike the European press corps, Jefferson recognized that it’s possible to criticize the journalism industry while respecting the underlying 1st Amendment principle. Clearly, Trump has surpassed Jefferson’s condemnation of the press by leaps and bounds. That doesn’t make him a threat, though.

So far the Trump war against journalism has fizzled. The assaults on the press have consisted of name calling and the spread of false claims that easily explode after the quickest of Google searches. After Obama threw journalists in jail and tapped the AP’s phones, Trump shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

European muckrakers aren’t much concerned with the wellbeing of their American counterparts, though. It’s difficult to remember when they lectured a head of state on the importance of a free press. A more likely explanation is that like everyone else, they just don’t like Trump.

But they can rest assured that the American free press will do just fine. Despite some of the recent mainstream tears, thanks to the First Amendment, journalists will continue to file and fact check no matter what during the next four years.

Trump names Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be national security adviser

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Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Trump names Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be new national security adviser

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H.R. McMaster replaces Mike Flynn as Trump’s national security adviser.

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