Troubling tenacity of Trump’s tweets torments the fourth estate
By Terry Miller
For most of the past 19 months, U.S. President Donald Trump’s horrific media ambush has garnered international attention and reaction unlike any other administration in recent memory.
Editors of the Boston Globe had a splendid idea last week. They asked news organizations throughout the United States to voice their concern. The Globe’s editorial board said: Trump has labeled the news media “the enemy of the American people” a month after taking the oath of office.
The Boston Globe is proposing that newspapers across the nation express their disdain for the president’s rhetoric on Aug. 16 with the best weapon they have: their collective voice.
A CNN analysis concluded, Trump used the word “fake” — as in “fake news,” “fake stories,” “fake media” or “fake polls” — more than 400 times.
And last week, at a political rally in Pennsylvania, Trump told his audience that the media was “fake, fake disgusting news.”
For the record, Mr. President – we are not fake, nor disgusting. We are part of a time-honored network known as the Fourth Estate which strives to write stories with accuracy, insight, and diplomacy.
“Whatever happened to honest reporting?” he asked the crowd. Then he pointed to a group of journalists covering the event. “They don’t report it. They only make up stories.”
That’s quite a tweet, Mr. President.
Recently, the NY Times publisher met with Trump to discuss the real and divisive nature of his, sometimes very personal attacks on the press. Trump, of course, twisted the meeting and failed to see the clear and present danger of his deliberate attack on reporters, their publishers and fellow employees.
Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he and Mr. Sulzberger had discussed “The vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase (sic), ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”
In a five-paragraph statement issued two hours after the tweet, Mr. Sulzberger said he had accepted Mr. Trump’s invitation for the July 20 meeting mainly to raise his concerns about the president’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”
“I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” said Mr. Sulzberger.
The Associated Press has said that 70 news organizations have agreed — from large metropolitan daily newspapers such as the Miami Herald and Denver Post to small weekly newspapers like Beacon Media News which owns and operates, Arcadia Weekly, Monrovia Weekly, Pasadena Independent and Sierra Madre Weekly.
‘‘Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming,’’ the Boston Globe appeal said.
The newspaper’s rallying cry was being promoted by industry groups such as the American Society of News Editors.
“The problem, of course, is that there is war on the press being conducted by the president of the United States and his supporters. To say otherwise would violate a different commandment. Yes, it’s imperative to keep your cool. It is equally imperative to state what is true,” said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU.
Others have argued that there’s a moral imperative to speak up because Trump’s rhetoric can result in more than words being hurled toward journalists. Some have pointed to the killing of five people who worked at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis as an example. The man charged with five counts of murder in the killings had a vendetta against the newspaper, authorities said. But critics have said that Trump’s anti-media comments do not help.
“What’s clear is that Trump has made it a verbal open season on journalists, many of whom have felt the sting one way or another,” columnist Kathleen Parker wrote in The Washington Post on June 29. “For all of us ink-stained wretches, the hate mail is more vicious than ever. The death threats more frequent.”
Just last week, New York Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens received this disturbing voice mail threat which he shared with readers as well as the NYPD:
“Hey Bret, what do you think? Do you think the pen is mightier than the sword, or that the AR is mightier than the pen?
“I don’t carry an AR but once we start shooting you f—ers you aren’t going to pop off like you do now. You’re worthless, the press is the enemy of the United States people and, you know what, rather than me shoot you, I hope a Mexican and, even better yet, I hope a n—– shoots you in the head, dead.”
This, and recent rally’s where the president appears to goad his supporters into almost out of control behavior frightens and disgusts seasoned journalists and most of the civilized world. The news media then swiftly became the news after an angry, uncontrolled Make America Great Again (MAGA) mob turned up the hatred another notch. Trump supporters thrust the middle finger and hurled expletives at reporters. It was a disturbing site that has festered and appears to be growing with each and every Trump “rally.”
The President’s words and tweets appear to provoke, whip hysteria, and incite Trump’s supporters into an angry mob and Make America Angry Again.
The troubling tenacity of Trump’s tweets is, according to this reporter, nothing less than a rallying cry to get more and more bullies on board the Trump Train of ‘liberal’ media loathing.
“When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant.”- Thomas Jefferson
NOTE:*The opinions expressed here are solely the author’s outlook and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, management, or owner of this company.