DAVID Stubley (Letters, October 26) defends President Trump on the basis of his perceived accomplishments in office – a commendable management of the coronavirus crisis; a helpful offer of federal assistance to states and cities afflicted by public disorder; some amelioration of "the racial divide" since the bad old days of the Obama administration.

Some might struggle to equate the achievement of the world's highest Covid-19 death toll (upwards of 224,000) and the highest death rate per 100,000 of population (68.7), abetted by a de facto policy of virus denialism, with excellence in pandemic management. Others might baulk at a president foisting upon a reluctant mayor and state governor in Portland, Oregon, unbadged federal agents who set about snatching American citizens from the streets and bundling them into unmarked vehicles. Many would be startled to learn that the incumbent hailed upon inauguration by David Duke as the Ku Klux Klansman's ideal pick had gone on to preside over an epoch of inter-communal harmony, particularly given his determined refusal morally to distinguish between the First Amendment – compliant demonstrators of Charlottesville and the American fascists murdering them in terrorist vehicle attacks.

Later, Mr Stubley relies upon a favourable comparison of the President's character with that of his electoral challenger Joe Biden. Mr Biden, apparently, exhibits "regular bouts of confusion". Jeepers. I admit that Joe's delivery is sometimes less than snappy. On the other hand, he does not communicate almost entirely by uttering mendacious and abusive Tweets in block capitals and a rudimentary argot all his own. He doesn't lie, relentlessly.

Mr Stubley seems to think that the Hunter Biden abandoned laptop story constitutes Exhibit A in the prosecution of Joe Biden's character. In fact, this is a sorry crock of a story that a group of Trump loyalists failed to sell to the Wall Street Journal, which concluded that it didn't stand up. Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon had to resort to rushing variations of it through less fastidious organs like the New York Post and Breitbart News, which didn't have the effect they'd hoped for in the run-up to the next presidential debate.

Finally, Mr Stubley is "shocked" at USA Today; "the Democrat-loving media", and indeed, at The Herald, for the "effective denial of free speech", apparently for failing to share his enthusiasm for Mr Trump. Further shocks are in store for him. Scientific American has endorsed Mr Biden, the first such stance adopted in its 175-year history. The New England Journal of Medicine (established in 1812) has called for a change of leadership in order to save American lives from a "dangerously incompetent" administration.

These are august American institutions. For them, and other elements of the American and international press, openly to oppose Trump and the degraded Grand Old Party that has hitched its fortunes to his dark star, is no betrayal of democracy, free speech, fair play, or any other worthwhile value. It marks a belated realisation on the part of a demoralised free press that it has a duty to call lies for what they are, and to redeem American democracy before it follows the European democracies of the 1920s and 1930s into the abyss.

Lindsay McCullough, Edinburgh EH10.