CPJ Brands Trump Threat to Press Freedom

In an unprecedented move for a group dedicated to preserving and protecting the rights and safety of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists has declared Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a threat to press freedom "unknown in modern history."

The CPJ board voted earlier this week to speak out against the candidate, saying it was not about taking sides in an election but protecting free speech from a Trump presidency and what it called "a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history."

"Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values," CPJ said, adding: "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."

CPJ's board had a laundry list of reasons for its action, including mocking a disabled reporter; expelling Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference; expelling other journalists from his events and systematically denying press credentials; threatening to "open up" libel laws and sue news outlets (Trump just Thursday threatened to sue the New York Times); and Trump's response to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough last December when asked whether Russia's history of murdering journalists tempered his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump's response: "He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country..."

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.