CPJ's Simon: Trump's Press Treatment Sends Bad Signal Abroad

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says the Trump Administration's treatment of the press is bad enough but that it has "far worse" implications as precedent for other countries. 

"[T]hroughout the first 100 days of the presidency of Donald J. Trump—a man who loves to disparage, insult, and rail against the media—the trend has continued," blogged Simon on CPJ's website.

He said Trump's tweeted branding of media critics as "fake news" has been repeated by "repressive governments such as China, Syria, and Russia."

He also pointed out that when Trump attacked a correspondent at a February press conference, "he was cheered by Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the world's worst jailer of journalists, according to CPJ's annual global imprisoned census."

While he said Trump was not the first to complain about how he was treated or even tried to do something about it, "Generally U.S. presidents have criticized the media while also acknowledging the essential role of a free press in American democracy, and while pledging to uphold the First Amendment. In this respect, unfortunately, Trump—who has made no strong statements in support of the press, and whose administration, according to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, has 'looked at' changing libel laws to restrict press freedom—stands apart," he said. 

Simon pointed out that in his April 29 rally in Pennsylvania, the President had continued his media attacks, calling them a "disgrace" and its practitioners "incompetent, dishonest people."

Simon quotes Salvadoran reporter Óscar Martínez: "Trump inhabits the global showcase. In attacking the U.S. press, he attacks all of the press and puts it at risk."

Before Trump was elected President, CPJ took the unprecedented step of declaring the Republican candidate a threat to press freedom "unknown in modern history."

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.