Sunday morning, free press defenders marched from The New York Times Manhatten offices to Fox News, past The Wall Street Journal, and NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Many people wore tape over their mouths to protest President Trump’s treatment of mainstream media organizations and a recent ban of popular news outlets, including The New York Times, at a recent White House briefing.
President Donald Trump, who has long been a vocal critic of the mainstream press, especially The New York Times and CNN, increased his Twitter attacks on long-established news outlets starting on February 17th:
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!”
Trump’s tweet was quickly deleted, according to Politico, and replaced with more news organizations the President didn’t approve of.
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
The Twitter attacks on the mainstream media continued on February 24, with President Trump not backing down from his belief that the press or “Fake News Media” are dangerous to our country.
“FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!”
Although Trump’s Twitter storm was provocative to every American who supports the First Amendment’s protection of a free press, many were not motivated to protest until after the President decided on Friday to bar several news outlets from a standard White House briefing. Organizations banned from the briefing include The New York Times, the BBC, BuzzFeed News, CNN, Politico, and The Huffington Post.
News organizations allowed into Friday’s briefing included traditionally conservative outlets including Breitbart News, the Washington Times, and the One America News Network.
According to the New York Times, Sunday’s protests were planned by Get Organized BK, New York City Council Member Brad Lander’s progressive organization to resist the Trump agenda. Although the march began and ended at The New York Times, the organizers made it very clear that the protest supported all media outlets, regardless of political leanings or bias.
Chants heard at Sunday’s protest included the following.
“When The New York Times is under attack what do we do?”
“STAND UP FIGHT BACK”
One protestor held a sign with a recent quote from Senator John McCain (R), which stated the following.
“When you look at history, the first thing dictators do is shut down the press.”
In a February 18th interview on Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd asked Senator McCain his opinion of President Trump’s assumption that the United States press is the enemy of the American people. The Senator responded with both serious support of a strong, independent press and a bit of lighthearted humor.
“A fundamental part of that new world order was a free press. I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you.”
And he later clarified as follows.
“And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”
Regardless of protests, fellow Republicans’ support of a free press, and Constitutional protections, President Trump’s self-inflicted war with the media has escalated since he took office. In response, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, expressed his support of the protestors saying that Trump’s actions to ban the press act in the following way.
“Undermines one of the few institutions that has as its role asking tough, independent-minded questions of the president.”
[Featured Image by Kathy Willens/AP Images]