Having credentials to cover Donald Trump has been an adventure over the last three years. During the campaign, anyone who dared write even mildly critical stories about Trump risked being trolled and threatened by pro-Trump thugs on social media. Trump himself has made it clear, either through himself or his minions in the campaign and in the White House, that he really, really, really hates the media.
If there was any doubt that this was the case, Trump himself put it to rest on Wednesday morning.
This should send a chill down the spine of any fair-minded American. The president of the United States not only believes that any critical coverage of him is fake news, but made a not-so-veiled threat to yank the credentials of any outlet that puts out negative stories about him.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this sentiment from the Trump camp. Last year, then-counterterrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka put the press on notice–the White House considered critical reports to be fake news. Listen here, courtesy CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.
More recently, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Trump’s reelection campaign, blew a gasket when CNN’s Jim Acosta collared Trump at the Easter Egg Roll and asked about his decision to break off talks about protecting the Dreamers. Parscale demanded that Acosta have his credentials yanked for such insolence.
But it’s quite another matter to hear it from Trump himself. According to CNN’s Oliver Darcy, Trump has been privately mulling whether to yank reporters’ credentials for some time. While he frequently blackballed outlets during the campaign, he promised that he would not do so if elected. The mere fact that he’s even thinking about going back on his word says a lot about him–and it isn’t good.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza suspects that when Trump claimed 91 percent of the coverage about him was negative, he was quoting from a study by the conservative Media Research Center conducted last year. According to The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, those figures may have been skewed by situations where positive coverage is all but impossible, as well as Trump’s tendency to create news.
But Cillizza rightly points out that the heart of the matter is Trump’s chilling definition of fake news.
“The point can be summed up in these two words from Trump: ‘negative (Fake).’ To Trump, those words mean the same thing. Negative news coverage is fake news. Fake news is negative news coverage.”
That didn’t sit well with the White House Correspondents Association, which gave Trump a lesson on how real journalism is supposed to work.
Other observers were no less unsparing in their criticism of this blatantly un-American sentiment from the occupant of the White House.
One has to wonder–does Trump want a situation like what prevails in Russia? The great majority of Russian media outlets are either owned outright by the government or controlled by Vladimir Putin’s cronies. In that environment, reporters risk having their credentials, as well as access to cable coverage and printing facilities, yanked if they don’t toe the line.
If you believe the media peddles fake news and shows corrupt tendencies when it criticizes you, Mr. Trump, you have shown a staggering disregard for the Constitution you swore to preserve, protect, and defend, as well as the rights it contains. Such disregard is not acceptable from a president, regardless of party. You, sir, may resign your post.
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