Donald Trump Declared an “Unprecedented Threat” To Free Press

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement Thursday declaring that “a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.” The statement excoriated the Republican nominee for his “contempt for the role of the press” and for making “his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign.”

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as “dishonest” and “scum” and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.

There is good reason for these fears, and one does not have to look far to find examples of Trump’s attitude toward the media.

Speaking at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, yesterday, Donald Trump lashed out at the media, accusing The New York Times “and other media outlets” of being “part of a concerted, coordinated, and vicious attack” on him:

“The establishment and their media neighbors wield control over this nation through means that are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, rapist, xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that.”

This is just the latest in a by now large sampling of attacks on the media, and as CJP reminds us,

Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom. At a rally in February, Trump declared that if elected president he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.

CPJ goes on to point out that in addition to inciting violence against the media (which includes a recent incidence of drawing a swastika on a media press table),

Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically, including The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Univision, and The Des Moines Register.

Their conclusion is damning:

Through his words and actions, Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests.
 
For this reason CPJ is taking the unprecedented step of speaking out now. This is not about picking sides in an election. This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.

The facts are undeniable. All the things Trump says the media lies about are true. He is on record. The video can be viewed, his words heard. Trump wishes to shape a reality at odds with actual events, even – especially – when it comes to the words coming out of his own mouth.

And right now, the only thing standing between Trump and his fake reality becoming our reality, are journalists brave enough to risk the threat of intimidation and lawsuits. Bad as it is now, it will, as CPJ warns, get a whole lot worse if Trump wins in November.