Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Verbal attacks on journalists by Trump and backers should be met with reporting, commentary

Trump supporters react to the news media Thursday
in Cincinnati (Getty Images photo by Ty Wright)
By Tim Mandell and Al Cross
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Donald Trump is waging a war on journalists, accusing them of "rigging the election." His supporters have grown more aggressive, fueled by his allegation that the news media are trying to sabotage his campaign. It's an issue that affects every journalist and should prompt reporting and commentary on every level, to inform readers of the importance of freedom of the press and defend the integrity of our craft.

"As the Republican nominee has resorted to more extreme denunciations of the press in recent days, his supporters have followed suit," Ben Shreckinger reports for Politico. "Chants of 'CNN sucks' have become commonplace at Trump's rallies and members of the traveling press were called 'whores' and 'press-titutes' as they filed out of a Thursday afternoon rally in West Palm Beach. Minutes before, Trump had accused reporters of participating in a vast globalist conspiracy against his campaign and American workers. Crowds that once booed and shouted at the press mainly at Trump’s prompting—when he would decry them as 'dishonest' and 'scum' or demand that television cameras pan his crowds—have now begun spontaneously targeting the press on their own, at a scale not yet seen in this campaign, or any in memory on American soil."

In Cincinnati on Thursday, "Reporters long accustomed to the toxic fervor of Trump rallies were startled, and even frightened, at the vitriol," Nick Corasanit reports for The New York Times. "Trump's efforts to discredit news-media organizations, painting them as part of a broad conspiracy with the Clinton campaign, have reached an intensity never before seen from a presidential candidate." Times media critic Jim Rutenberg has a video report:

Reporters have been the objects of obscenities, leading one who is part of the group traveling with Trump to say it has reached "a mob mentality," Paul Farhi reports for The Washington Post. The journalist, who remained nameless because his employer prohibits him from making public comments, told Farhi, “We’ve been on the receiving end of that throughout the election, so we’ve largely become numb to it. But in the last few days it’s just been so much louder, so much angrier. The people who are shouting look at us like we’re their immediate enemies, not as like . . . primarily late-20-to-early-30-somethings there to do a job.”

"Reporters are now concealing or removing their press credentials when leaving the pen to avoid confrontations with Trump’s supporters," Farhi writes. "The atmosphere is particularly threatening to female reporters and to female TV reporters whose faces are well known, reporters say. Some reporters have wondered aloud about the need for more security, or at least more barriers to separate them from the crowd as they enter and exit Trump’s events."

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which Corasaniti calls "a nonprofit group often focused on defending press freedoms in war-torn and totalitarian countries," made an unprecedented statement regarding American elections: "Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values." A resolution by the CPJ board called Trump "an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ's ability to advocate for press freedom around the world."

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has asked people to join him in praying that "journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics." We think the great majority of them are, and journalists at all levels need to stand up for them. The item below also shows the need for that.

1 comment:

John Rosenberg said...

Right on, Al and Tim! Disgraceful conduct by Trump! Journalists have to continue to stand up against his intimidation, and tell it like it is!