CPJ Asks POTUS to Stop Press Attacks

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on the President to do the same. It has asked President Donald Trump to tone down his rhetorical attacks on the press after a supporter launched a non-rhetorical attack on a BBC journalist at the President's rally in El Paso Monday night (Feb. 11), according to the BBC.

BBC camera operator Ron Skeans was shoved and sworn at during the Feb. 11 rally, according to the BBC, which has asked the White House for a review of the security arrangements for media attending his rallies, where the President regularly attacks the media as fake news and the enemy, sometimes pointing them out at the back of the hall as, mostly, very bad people.

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The BBC said the President checked to make sure Skeans was OK and proceeded with his speech when he got a thumbs up from Skeans. The BBC said a campaign official suggested afterwards that the attacker may have been drunk.

"It's outrageous that a journalist was attacked while covering a presidential speech," said Alexandra Ellerbeck, CPJ's North America program coordinator, in a statement. "We call on President Trump to moderate his rhetoric against the press and to state clearly that physically attacking media personnel is not acceptable."

In October, the U.S. Press Tracker (CPJ is a member) noted that the President has "spoken fondly" of such attacks, citing his praise for Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte's body slam of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.

Following the incident, for which Gianforte apologized, he was re-elected to Congress and even named to the House subcommittee that oversees communications issues like government treatment of the media.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.