One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian regime is to attack independent media and to replace it with state-run media. No one has been more relentless in attacking the news media than the demamgogue Donald Trump.
First Amendment Watch reports, The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press: “[T]he animosity towards the press fostered by President Donald Trump is believed to be unprecedented,” detailing a list of events.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports, The Trump Administration and the Media (excerpt):
It was all typical of the Trump presidency’s unprecedented hostility toward the press. Trump has habitually attacked the news media in rallies, responses to reporters’ questions, and many hundreds of tweets. He has repeatedly called the press “fake news,” “the enemy of the people,” “dishonest,” “corrupt,” “low life reporters,” “bad people,” “human scum” and “some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.” As Trump told Leslie Stahl of CBS Newsshortly after he was elected president in 2016, he has been trying to destroy the credibility of the news media’s reporting about him.
“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said at a Society of Professional Journalists press freedom event in Washington on December 11, 2019. “He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try and delegitimize us, and I think his purpose is clear: to raise doubts, when we report critically about him and his administration, that we can be trusted.”
In response to Trump’s steady stream of verbal attacks, members of the press were regularly booed at Trump rallies, and reporters named in his tweets have been repeatedly harassed online. There also have been credible threats to news organizations, with CNN frequently targeted.
[A]long with Trump’s thousands of documented false statements and his promotion of discredited conspiracy theories, the administration’s attacks on the credibility of the news media have dangerously undermined truth and consensus in a deeply divided country.
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Trump’s attacks have had the most success in eroding the credibility of the American press among his many millions of supporters. A major Pew Research Center study in late 2019 showed that a plurality of Republicans consistently distrusted most of the news media (except for Trump-supporting media like Fox News), while pluralities of Democrats tended to trust them. In a Pew survey conducted in mid-March, 62% of respondents said the news media had exaggerated the risks from the COVID-19 virus.
Some expert observers fear an existential threat to American freedom of the press. “Trump disrespects the press as a core democratic institution,” University of Utah media law professor RonNell Anderson Jones told me. She said that American news media are dependent on citizens’ acceptance of its First Amendment role. If that erodes, she warned, “freedom of the press is in peril.”
On Friday, Trump was again praising violence against reporters, this time by the police and National Guard units at Black Lives Matter protests — also First Amendment protected freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and right to petition the government.
MSNBC said President Trump is endangering journalists and undermining freedoms after he told a crowd at a rally that it was a “beautiful sight” when one of the network’s anchors, Ali Velshi, was shot with a rubber bullet during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
“Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy. When the president mocks a journalist for the injury he sustained while putting himself in harm’s way to inform the public, he endangers thousands of other journalists and undermines our freedoms,” MSNBC said in a statement Saturday.
— MSNBC Public Relations (@MSNBCPR) September 19, 2020
The network’s statement was in response to comments the president made at a rally in Minnesota late Friday.
“I remember this guy Velshi,” Trump said. “He got hit in the knee with a canister of tear gas, and he went down. He was down. ‘My knee. My knee.’ Nobody cared. These guys didn’t care. They moved him aside.”
“And they just walked right through. It was the most beautiful thing,” Trump added. “After we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, and you finally see men get up there and go right through them, wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? It’s called law and order.”
Velshi also responded to the president’s remarks and corrected Trump on the injury he suffered on May 30, noting that he was hit by a rubber bullet, not a tear gas canister.
So, @realDonaldTrump, you call my getting hit by authorities in Minneapolis on 5/30/20 (by a rubber bullet, btw, not a tear gas cannister) a “beautiful thing” called “law and order”. What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) September 19, 2020
Velshi was hit while reporting live from a protest in Minneapolis. As police started firing tear gas near Velshi and his crew, Velshi said that “there has been no provocation,” adding that “police pulled into this intersection unprovoked right into the middle of the crowd.”
Here is the video compilation of NBC/MSNBCs coverage of the incident in question in Minneapolis.
Donald Trump’s routine attacks on the media have been internalized and parroted by Republican politicians at every level of government. GOP Sen. Martha McSally’s attack on a CNN reporter was an embrace of Trumpism.
I have seen some crazy campaign ads over many years, but this one ranks right up towards the top, from the appointed, not elected Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who is running in a special general election against fellow Trump sycophant Doug Collins (R-GA), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga). If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election, to be held on January 5, 2021.
Loeffler is the racist co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). WNBA revolts over Atlanta Dream co-owner Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s comments about Black Lives Matter.
This ad portrays encouraging violence against reporters, just like her boy Donald Trump.
Again, this is the senator whose initial appointment last year was greeted with much punditry about how she'd appeal to moderate women in the Atlanta suburbs who were drifting away from the GOP and turning Georgia purple.
Now she's comparing herself favorably to Attila the Hun.
— Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) September 21, 2020
It’s all just a joke (ha! ha!) – until a reporter is actually injured or killed by some crazed QAnon personality cult follower of Donald Trump.