President Trump Confused About Importance of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press
President Trump – golfing again at his New Jersey golf estate Sunday – escalated his feud with the news media by accusing journalists of being unpatriotic and endangering lives after the publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, disclosed that he had warned Trump recently that his inflammatory rhetoric about the media could lead to violence…
“I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” Sulzberger said. “I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people.’ I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
“I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.”
“Throughout the conversation, I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was, of course, free to tell the world. I made clear repeatedly that I was not asking for him to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt our coverage was unfair. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.”
White House aides asked that the meeting with NY Times publisher A.G Sulzberger – also attended by James Bennet, New York Times’ editorial page editor – to be “off the record,” in keeping with past practice for such meetings, but President Trump put it “on the record” with his Sunday tweet.