Amidst Responses To Trump's First Pardon, Viral Tweets Emphasize Importance Of Local News

"Local newspapers are the clarion call of democracy."

President Donald Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio Friday night after hinting during a rally earlier this week in Phoenix that the Arizona lawman who was convicted of criminal contempt in July in a racial profiling case would not be serving jail time. The move was met with an almost immediate backlash from politicians, activists and members of the Latino community, who had allegedly largely been the subjects of Arpaio's controversial policies. 

"Many will characterize it as a slap to the Latino community – and it is," the editorial board of The Arizona Republic wrote. "The vast majority of Latinos in Arizona are not undocumented, yet they all fell under heightened scrutiny as Arpaio honed his image...The pardon was a sign of pure contempt for every American who believes in justice, human dignity and the rule of law."

As a reminder or an introduction to the self-described "America's toughest sheriff," the Phoenix New Times tweeted a series of articles that document the dogged way the weekly alternative covered Arpaio's 24-year tenure as the sheriff of Maricopa County

In that time, the Trump supporter and fellow birther was accused of acts including a botched SWAT raid in which a dog was allegedly set on fire, creating an environment in which one of his jailers reportedly nearly broke the neck of a paraplegic man, referring to his own prisons as "concentration camps." (Arpaio, of course, has denied such allegations.)

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As local newsrooms around the country have had to lay off reporters or close their doors due to budget cuts from a lack of advertising, a loss of subscriptions and a White House that has vilified the press, the Phoenix New Times' thread is a reminder of the important role of local media, as many observed on the social platform.  

"Local newspapers are the clarion call of democracy," John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights, writes at HuffPost. "However, we've been deceived into believing that the most important governmental matters are housed in Washington, D.C. In truth, the real government, the one that Abraham Lincoln spoke of as being a government of the people, by the people and for the people, is housed in small towns across this country. That's where democracy is being played out on an everyday basis."

Cover image via  Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock

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