RTDNA Asks Candidates Not to Attack Media

The Radio-Television Digital News Association is reaching out to the major political campaigns asking candidates to cool the anti-media rhetoric in the mid-term elections.

That came in a letter from RTDNA Executive Director Dan Shelley to the heads of the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee.

"We respectfully request that you encourage 2018 Democratic U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates, their campaign leaders, and their campaign staffs to treat all journalists with respect and professionalism," Shelley wrote. "Specifically, I am asking that you urge them not to use rhetoric that inflames the passions of those who harbor ill will toward the Fourth Estate."

While the outreach is bipartisan, the citations of media threats are clearly targeted at the Republicans.

"Just a few years ago I would have considered the necessity for a request such as this unimaginable," said Shelley. "But as you know, we presently live in a divisive political and ideological environment in which cries of “fake news” and the label of journalists as “the enemy of the American people” have emboldened those who either don’t like, or don’t understand the role of, journalism to act out, too often in harsh ways.

Shelley says that campaign consultants "have already advised some midterm congressional and local candidates to attack the media at every turn because it worked so well for candidate Trump in 2016.”

He also cites an AP story that found that the President's effort to discredit the mainstream media "has spread to officials at all levels of government, who are echoing his use of the term “fake news” as a weapon against unflattering stories.”

He also cites cries of fake news by the Republican governor of Kentucky and a Republican Idaho state representative.

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.