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Trump brands media ‘opposition party’ after 350 outlets run coordinated editorials resisting ‘assault on free press’

‘It is very bad for our Great Country,’ Donald Trump says

Kimberley Richards
New York
Thursday 16 August 2018 22:58 BST
US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump (AFP/Getty)

Donald Trump has lashed out at more than 350 newspapers across the US who launched a coordinated defence of press freedom, by calling the media the “opposition party”.

The campaign, led by the Boston Globe, came after a number of attacks from the president who has repeatedly labelled journalists “the enemy of the people” and derided much of the media as “fake news”.

“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press,” said the editorial by the Globe. “The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful... to label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”

The Globe had initially published an editorial over the “assault on the free press” and called on editorial and leader writers across the US to do the same. Mr Trump was not happy with the response.

“THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY,” he wrote on Twitter. “It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

Mr Trump continued by taking aim directly at the The Globe accusing the publication of being in “collusion” with other papers. He also claimed The New York Times sold The Globe, after purchasing it, for $1. Although the publication and its affiliated websites and businesses were sold for $70m in 2013.

He also wrote there was nothing he would want more for the United States than true freedom of the press, but that much of what the media published was fake news,

“Pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS”, he said.

The US President has frequently criticised the press since taking office. As a then president-elect, Mr Trump notably told CNN’s Jim Acosta at press conference last year that he would not allow him a question because his news organisation was “fake news”.

Earlier this year, the US President announced a “highly-anticipated” 2017 fake news awards in which he tweeted a link to a blog sharing the “winners” – names of journalists and their affiliated news organisations – of “fake news”.

The introductory line on the GOP blog charged: “2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news. Studies have shown that over 90 [per cent] of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative.”

But Mr Trump’s strained relationship with the media goes deeper than blog-site-fake-news-awards – the US president has repeatedly and publicly undermined the value of the media. Last month, Mr Trump told supporters in Kansas City to not “believe the crap” they read or see in the news.

“Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” he said.

The mass editorials were not welcomed by all sections of the media, with some believing it could backfire and play into the president’s narrative that the media is out to get him. However, most tried to portray journalists as human who can make mistakes.

In its editorial, The New York Times said it was correct to criticise the news media for underplaying or overplaying stories or for getting something wrong.

“News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job,” the Times said. “But insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.”

Mr Trump, who once publicly questioned whether to revoke White House press credentials from journalists, recently addressed his “enemy of the people” rhetoric on Twitter.

After his daughter and top aide, Ivanka Trump, said she did not believe the press to be the enemy, Mr Trump purported to clarify his stance that “FAKE NEWS” which he accused is “a large percentage of the media” is the enemy of the people.

As well as the editorials on Thursday, The Senate unanimously adopted a non-binding resolution that affirmed the “vital and indispensable role” played by the news media and declared that “the press is not the enemy of the people”.

Reuters contributed to this report

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