Journalists Respond To Trump’s “Chilling” Attacks On The Media At CPAC

After President Donald Trump used his 2017 CPAC speech to attack the media, journalists responded, calling his statements on the media were “chilling” and unamerican.

Trump Uses CPAC Speech To Attack Media As “Enemy Of The People”

ABC: Trump “Doubled Down On His Attacks On The Media” During CPAC Speech. In a February 24 article, ABC News reported Trump’s “doubled down on his attacks on the media” during his CPAC 2017 speech, and declared “the ‘fake’ news is the ‘enemy of the people,’ zeroing in on the use of unnamed sources”:

Trump also doubled down on his attacks on the media, repeating his recent assertion that the “fake” news is the “enemy of the people,” zeroing in on the use of unnamed sources.

“I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” Trump said. “They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there.”

The president's renewed criticism of the media comes as there are press reports that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus privately asked the FBI to knock down news stories of Trump campaign officials communicating with Russian intelligence agents. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday morning that Priebus only asked FBI officials to go public with information that they had first privately provided to him which cast doubt on the media reports.

The president seemed at times in his address to want to qualify his attack on the press, saying he's not against all media. [ABC News, 2/24/17]

Journalists  Respond To Trump’s “Chilling” Comments

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza: “I Found Trump’s Comments Chilling.” On the February 24 edition of CNN’s Wolf, The New Yorker 's Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza stated Trump’s attacks on the media are “chilling,” adding a ban on using anonymous sources “would obviously be unconstitutional”:

RYAN LIZZA: To me, he said three things about the media that I found, as someone who cares a lot about the First Amendment, and as a journalist, frankly chilling. At one point he said that we shouldn't be allowed to use anonymous sources.

Now, if someone who is a journalist professor says that, now maybe they're just talking about the practice of the press. When the President of the United States says that, you know, I think we need to perk up and listen and see what he means, especially when in the campaign he talked about tightening libel laws. That would obviously be unconstitutional, a ban on using anonymous sources.

He also made, as we saw in the first clip, a sort of mocking reference to journalists who cite the First Amendment -- you know, he went on to say that he’s the biggest fan of the First Amendment, but the president is -- he pledges an oath to swear and to defend and to protect the Constitution. So, to even -- to see it come out of his mouth, a mocking of the First Amendment, I found a little -- a little troubling.

And then, finally, he said when he was talking about the media that “We're going to do something about it.” Now, I don't know what he means, “do something about it,” but, again, when the president attacks the press as the enemy and says this string of things, it's a little concerning.

You know, a senior military official this week said that Trump's comments about calling the media an enemy were one of the greatest threats to democracy, and that's someone in the military. So, that’s -- and there are a lot of things to digest in that speech, but for my money, that was the part that I was concerned about. [CNN, Wolf, 2/24/17]

CNN’s Brian Stelter: “The Demagoguery Continues,” “A Lot Of Journalists Got A Chill Up Their Spine.” On the February 24 edition of CNN’s At This Hour with Kate Bolduan, CNN host Brian Stelter responded to Trump’s CPAC speech attacking the media, stating “the demagoguery continues, this was all about us versus them.” Stelter continued, adding “a lot of journalists got a chill up their spine”:

BRIAN STELTER: The demagoguery continues, this was all about us versus them. I think we heard it in almost every sentence, “us versus them,” and that's true with the media.

He tried to divide the real media from the fake news media, suggesting CNN is fake news and unspecified others are real news. So, what he's trying to do even there is to divide, create a division between the sources he likes and the sources he doesn't like.

But let's just -- for the record, let’s make clear, he said that journalists make up stories and make up sources, there's no evidence of that. When we have anonymous sources, our bosses know who they are and there's very careful research and vetting that goes on. Journalists do not make up stories and sources.

Once in awhile, there are bad apples in a news organizations, I can count them on one hand of the cases we know about,  and when that happens there are penalties, but journalists don't make up sources.

One more point about polls, he said journalists make up polls. That is completely untrue. People work really hard using scientific methods to conduct these polls.

And finally, one sentence that I think we're going to need to probe in more detail: he said “the media doesn't represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we're going to do something about it.” A lot of journalists got a chill up their spine hearing that sentence.

Is that just normal bluster from the president? It could be, it could just be normal bluster, he’s just complaining, but to say that “We're going to do something about it,” it's curious, because so far all he's really done is complained about the coverage. He hasn't taken actions against news organizations. So, that sentence stood out to me from this speech.  [CNN, At This Hour With Kate Bolduan, 2/24/17]

CNN’s Jake Tapper: Trump White House “Does Not Seem To Value An Independent Press,” “That Line Of Thinking … Is Unamerican.” On the February 24 edition of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, host Jake Tapper stated “This White House does not seem to respect the idea of accountability” and “does not seem to value an independent press.” Tapper continued, adding “There is a word for that line of thinking, the word is unamerican”:

JAKE TAPPER: So, don't misunderstand what's going on with that rhetoric, and with today's action banning various media outlets including CNN and The New York Times. This White House does not seem to respect the idea of accountability. This White House does not seem to value an independent press. There is a word for that line of thinking, the word is unamerican. [CNN, The Lead With Jake Tapper, 2/24/17]

New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof: Trump Is “Trying To Weaken The Greatest Institutional Check On His Illegal Acts.”

 [Twitter, 2/24/17]

Vox’s Matthew Yglesias: “Why Did Trump Fire Flynn If The Flynn Reporting Was Fake News Based On Fake Sources?”

 [Twitter, 2/24/17]

LA Times’ Cathleen Decker: Trump Is “Defining As ‘Fake’ Stories That He Doesn’t Like, Not Untrue Ones.”

 [Twitter, 2/24/17]

Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs: “Trump Doesn’t Mind ‘Good Stories’ That Flatter Him With Unnamed Sources. He Wants Anyone Critical Of Him To Have To Be Named.”

 [Twitter, 2/24/17]

CNN’s Brian Stelter: “Journalists Need To Imagine ‘How Bad It Can Get’ W/r/t Trump Treatment Of Press. Not ‘Assume,’ But Anticipate.”

 [Twitter, 2/24/17]

NBC’s Hallie Jackson: As Trump “Rails Against Unnamed Sources, His Aides Are Briefing Reporters….On Condition They Not Be Named.”

 [Twitter, 2/24/17]