CNN op-ed slammed for comparing military to the media, says both are 'protecting our freedoms'

CNN has been mocked widely for publishing an opinion piece calling for Americans to thank the media the way members of the military are acknowledged because they are both “protecting our freedoms” and “the stakes have never been higher.”

University of Notre Dame management professor Joseph Holt wrote the essay headlined, “The press isn't the enemy, it's the protector,” which was published last week. The ridiculed piece is labeled “opinion” and notes “the views expressed here are solely the author's.”

Holt defended CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was mocked by Trump supporters at a recent rally. Acosta then asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday to say whether the press is indeed the “enemy of the people,” as her boss has controversially claimed. Sanders didn’t oblige and Acosta stormed out of the briefing. Holt took to CNN’s website to defend the network’s top White House correspondent.

“A real enemy of the American people seeking to undermine our democracy would love nothing more than to shut down the press,” Holt wrote before declaring that the press is made up of human beings who “sometimes make mistakes.”

The Notre Dame professor also wrote that “the press at its best is like a guardian angel that caringly and capably protects us from harm.”

Holt then went into detail describing an 1882 play called “Enemy of the People,” but the conclusion of his column became the target of criticism because he compared soldiers to members of the press.

"We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason -- especially when the stakes have never been higher."

- Joseph Holt

“We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason -- especially when the stakes have never been higher,” Holt wrote.

While the professor’s final paragraph sent readers flocking to mock it on social media, it appears Holt meant to acknowledge simply that reporters are doing a service with little-to-no recognition. Despite being labeled an opinion piece, the backlash to his over-the top comparison was harsh at times.

The Daily Caller media editor Amber Athey noted that CNN “was attacked on social media for publishing the comparison between reporters and soldiers” and compiled some of the criticism.

“Shame on @CNN. It is disgraceful for any 'news' corporation to engage in this caliber of self-flagellation while minimizing the true sacrifice of our armed forces,” Daily Wire’s Elliot Hamilton wrote.

Pundit Jeremiah Dunleavy IV called Holt’s take “atrocious,” while Target Victory’s Caleb Hull asked, “Why did I read this in Acosta's voice?”

Free Beacon reporter Natalie Johnson chimed in, “How do you write this and think, ‘Yes, this is good’ and then submit it through edits where another person thinks, ‘Yes, let’s publish this.’”

When Holt tweeted the piece himself, his followers did not appear to appreciate it. Responses included users asking if he was serious, reporters sarcastically asking to be thanked for their service, and a variety of followers mocking the comparison.

One follower asked, “How dare you place @CNN on the level of our service members?”

Another user wrote, “You can't possibly be equating soldiers dying in the line of duty with members of the press being heartily called out by those that disagree with them. They will live to write or spout off another day. They won't come home from work in a flag draped coffin.”

That particular comment got Holt’s attention, as the professor fired back, “I didn't equate them. I said they both protect our freedom.”

Not everyone was out for blood after reading the CNN op-ed.

“Holt’s comparison of journalists and the military was very simplistic but clearly didn’t mean that the sacrifices they make are the same. His bigger point is that both benefit our freedoms, which is true,” Mediaite columnist Joseph Wulfsohn told Fox News.

CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.