While U.S. press freedom continues to decline, “media-bashing enthusiast” President Donald Trump reiterated his hostility toward journalists who critically cover his administration on Wednesday, provoking a new wave of warnings from reporters and and supporters of the First Amendment.
Trump suggested that all “negative” reports should be classified as “fake” and the journalists who produce those reports should have their “credentials” revoked. He tweeted:
“These authoritarian impulses of yours are anti-American,” responded former White House ethics director Walter Shaub, one of many free press defenders who swiftly denounced the president’s message.
“The president just called all negative coverage fake, and is apparently threatening to revoke credentials unless the press starts writing fan fiction. I always thought of authoritarianism as a slick and stealthy evil, but our democracy appears to be going down via temper tantrum,” remarked journalist Lauren Duca.
Responding to Trump’s proposal to revoke press credentials over critical coverage, New York Magazine‘s Olivia Nuzzi pointed out that “his campaign did this to many reporters, including me. It made it more logistically challenging to cover him, but the banned press still covered him.”
“He’s probably just suggesting this to make everybody upset because he’s bored and agitated and chaos thrills him,” Nuzzi added, “but it’s possible he sees a direct link between a press ban and a successful election.”
Blacklisting reporters is just one of the many tactics that Trump and his team have used to “control the media,” as Robert Reich outlined shortly after the 2016 presidential election. The Trump campaign’s strategy also included berating the media, attempting to turn the public against the media, and threatening libel lawsuits.
“Taking away press credentials because we don’t like what they say is wrong,” declared Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on Twitter, urging all Americans “to stand up for the First Amendment.”
“Thank goodness we have the First Amendment. We need it now more than ever,” concluded former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.
While offering no praise for the president or his threats, some suggested that revoking credentials could actually improve the critical coverage of Trump’s administration.
Jason Linkins, a senior editor at ThinkProgress, tweeted:
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT