President Donald Trump has branded the media as the enemy of the people.
Fake News/Real Threats
President Donald Trump has spent the majority of his presidency speaking out against “fake news,” calling journalists the enemy of the people.
Now, those pronouncements may have produced real threats, as a C-SPAN viewer known as “Don from State College, Pennsylvania” has threatened to kill CNN journalists Don Lemon and Brian Stelter for allegedly calling President Trump supporters, racists.
“It all started when Trump got elected,” “Don from State College, Penn.” explained to C-SPAN host, Greta Browner. “[Stelter and Lemon] don’t even know us. They don’t even know these Americans out here and they’re calling us racist because we voted for Trump.
“They started the war. If I see ‘em, I’m going to shoot ‘em. Bye,” Don said before hanging the telephone up.
Despite the threat from Don, CNN’s Stelter and Lemon have never called all Trump supporters racists.
Stelter explained his previous statements on air after hearing about the threats made by Don from State College, Penn.
“Obviously, researchers have proven that—yes—racial anxiety and resentment was a factor,” said Stelter. “But that’s not the same thing as calling all Trump supporters racist.
“I don’t know if the C-SPAN caller watched Hannity. I’m not blaming Hannity. I just thought the timing was odd.”
Stelter referenced Fox News personality Sean Hannity in his statement because the right wing television personality aired a clip of Stelter mentioning racial anxiety and racial resentment in a recent episode of his conservative talk show.
C-SPAN’s communications director, Howard Mortman said that Browner did not challenge the caller when he made the threats to Lemon and Stelter because she did not hear the threats before the caller hung up the telephone.
The C-SPAN website states, “When a caller makes ad hominem attacks or uses indecent language or obviously racist language, program hosts are certainly permitted to step in.
“Given that this involves quick judgment during a live production, it’s an imperfect process.”
Stelter does not want sympathy and does not believe he is in extreme danger.
The reporter noted that CNN has great security for their employees.
Nevertheless, many media outlets have beefed up security for their journalists, including the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Trump has continued his attacks on the media with extra criticism seemingly given to the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post.
The president has, however, praised Fox News and hosts like Hannity.
Recently, Trump received criticism for calling Lemon and NBA superstar LeBron James dumb.
To some of Trump’s critics, the insults had hints of racism in it because since slavery, African-Americans have had their intelligence doubted by the majority culture.
James has called the president a “bum” in the past, and he told Lemon that he would never have a sit-down with the president.
However, he said that he would sit down with former President Barack Obama to discuss social and political issues.
James said that he believes that Trump has used sports to divide Americans.
Trump has said in the past that any athlete who protests systemic racism and police brutality during the national anthem should be dragged off the field and fired.
Experts from the United Nations believe that Trump’s anti-media rhetoric could possibly lead to violent attacks against American journalists.
“These attacks run counter to the country’s obligations to respect press freedom and international human rights law,” rapporteurs for freedom of expression Edison Lanza (International American Commission on Human Rights) and David Kaye (United Nations) said in a joint statement.
“We are especially concerned that these attacks increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence.”
Trump’s branding of journalists and news outlets that he does not like as “fake news” is never backed up by facts that those outlets have a bias against him or that they in fact have reported something not factual.
However, many Trump supporters take claims of “fake news” as gospel even though reporters constantly catch Trump himself spreading fake news and bias.
Recently, CNN got excluded from a Trump event, which led to criticism from the White House Correspondents Association.
Even Fox News criticized his treatment of a CNN reporter.
Many critics say that Trump calls news stories “fake news” so that he can cause his supporters and others to doubt verifiable and truthful stories that might contain negative information about his administration and/or his family members.
However, Kaye and Lanza said, “But he has failed to show even once that specific reporting has been driven by any untoward motivations.”
The U.N. has also encouraged Trump to refrain from suing journalists to learn who their sources are.
Furthermore, the U.N. has urged the commander-in-chief to stop using the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers.
Other critics to Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric believe that the president’s anti-media statements could place journalists overseas in even more danger than their American counterparts.
In many countries, freedom of the press is nonexistent.
Many foreign journalists are thrown into jail for reporting facts that their government dislikes.
And in countries like Mexico, journalists are sometimes killed for factual reporting on the Mexican drug cartels who often inflict capital punishment on those they consider their enemies.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees a free press.
Although the media has its critics, many say that the press is the fourth branch of government because they are charged with holding the executive, legislative and judicial branches accountable.
Without a free press, American would not know about abuses of power committed by their leaders.
Furthermore, Americans would not be able to make informed decisions at the voting booths without a free press educating them on the candidates and the issues of the day.
Reporters from the Washington Post broke the Watergate scandal wide opened, which led to the resignation of former President Richard M. Nixon and his first Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Since the election of Trump, the media has focused on his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians.
Putin admittedly wanted a Trump White House instead of seeing Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
Intelligence officials have confirmed that Russians interfered in the 2016 election and plan to do the same thing in the 2018 mid-term election.