Since taking office on Friday, January 20, President Donald Trump has started attacking his newest target: the press.
Trump has made his opinion on media and journalism sources clear since the beginning of his campaign. In June, the then-candidate revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials, preventing its reporters from accessing campaign areas that were reserved solely for the press. When asked to justify the action, Trump’s campaign said that The Washington Post has “no journalistic integrity and write[s] falsely about Mr. Trump”. There is speculation that the campaign took action due to the Washington Post publishing a critical article on Trump’s response to the Orlando shooting. Reuters also stated that Trump placed similar temporary bans on publications such as the Huffington Post, Politico magazine, and Buzzfeed.
On January 11, Trump went after CNN and Buzzfeed, stating that the former was “fake news” and refusing to answer questions from either source.
During a visit to the CIA headquarters on January 21, the president once again attacked journalists. In his rant, Trump stated that press reporters were “the most dishonest human beings on Earth”, accusing the media of lying about the size of his inauguration crowd. Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer later repeated the sentiment in a press briefing, condemning the audience for falsifying evidence and slandering the president. Spicer recently came under fire for delivering inaccurate statistics regarding the inauguration crowd. The information supported Trump’s claim that his ceremony attendance outnumbered former President Obama’s in 2009. Shortly after. reports with side-by-side comparisons of Trump’s crowd against Obama’s surfaced, showing that the latter’s was significantly larger. In response to the backlash, Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer, stating that he simply gave the press alternative facts.
In the same briefing, Spicer confidently stated that Trump and his advisers are “going to hold the press accountable”. Trump has expressed the desire to limit press control throughout his campaign, leaving some journalists to speculate what will happen now that he is in power.
When asked for his thoughts on Trump’s future actions, John Picinich, editor of the education-news site Newsela, said the following:
“ He will certainly restrict access to the White House by barring reporters from media and newspapers that he does not like…Ultimately, he will fail. The truth will always come out.”
“The president exaggerates…he hated that the press fact-checked his statements during the election, and continues to fact-check he and his administration now that he has taken office. His desire to ‘hold the press accountable’ is a simple case of trying to bully the press.”
When asked how the press should act moving forward, Picinich said:
“The most crucial responsibility of the press is to show the facts and tell the truth. This will become even more important as the administration continues to make unsubstantiated claims that the press is biased and slanted against the administration and the Republican Party.”