What did Trump expect when stigmatizing journalists as “scum,” “horrible people,” purveyors of “fake news,” and “the enemy of the American people.”
His rage is nothing short of incitement to physical harm. Remember a GOP electoral candidate from Montana who grabbed a journalist’s neck with both hands, threw him to the ground, punched him, and broke his glasses? The next day the assailant won election to Congress.
The first instinct is to silence by any means reporters the president of the United States labels “the enemy of the American people.”
No one has greater authority than the chief executive. No one has a more sonorous bullhorn. What he says reaches the furthest corners of the nation.
Trump’s war cry has been taken up by multitudes sporting redcaps. The latest video shows CNN’s star reporter, Jim Acosta, broadcasting from a rally of Trump supporters while one of the president’s disciples diverts attention by hoisting a gloating sign, CNN Sucks.
A darling of right-wingers, Milo Yiannopoulos crowed, ”I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”
Ted Nugent, a popular far-right guitarist beaming with Trump in the Oval Office before mocking Hillary Clinton’s portrait in the White House, compared the news media to rabid coyotes. “Keep your gun handy and every time you see one, shoot one.”
Trump, Yiannopoulos and Nugent are only three of the loudest mouths goading masses to violence against the media.
I write now as a journalist who worked in America, England, Israel, and Africa. Nobody sticks their necks out like the media, racing to cover the news in sometimes dangerous and life-threatening frontlines. No one is in it for glory or fame. They are just cut out for the job of working at all hours to dig deep, and fend off censors and anyone trying to block access to information crucial for public awareness.
The very best journalists, like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, never dropped the Watergate story until the truth was out and a villainous president resigned in disgrace. They are the likes of which everyone in the legitimate media strives to emulate.
Not the rabble-rousers like Trump, Yiannopoulos and Nugent, who haven’t a clue about the noble profession of journalism. They only know how to stoke the fires of partisan hatred and call for the scribes’ heads.
Rest in Peace you five victims of bloodshed in an Annapolis newsroom. A man who bore a long-standing grudge against your newspaper gunned you down.
But the real monster who gave the green light to sidestep the law resides in the White House.
Anthony Pitch was formerly a journalist in America, England, Israel, and Africa.