White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was fact-checked by journalists after she claimed that President Donald Trump is one of the first people to condemn attacks against members of the media, reports ABC News.
Sanders was speaking on the heels of the Friday arrest of U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, who was reportedly caught researching acts of domestic terrorism and acquiring a cache of firearms allegedly to be used against prominent Democratic politicians and journalists from CNN and MSNBC. His arrest immediately caused journalists a lot of consternation, who have been getting increasingly anxious about their safety since Florida man Cesar Sayoc launched a mail-bombing campaign against members of the media last October.
Reacting to Hasson’s arrest, Trump called his actions a “shame.”
“I think it’s a very sad thing when a thing like that happens,” he added.
But wary journalists were not taking the president for his word. When asked if he didn’t think his own hostile language had anything to do with motivating such people, Trump refuted the allegation.
“No, I don’t. I think my language is very nice,” Trump said.
Later, Sanders was confronted by journalists outside the White House. She was asked if Trump’s own language was not promoting an anti-media sentiment among his supporters. The White House press secretary didn’t only refute the insinuation, she said that President Trump was always one of the first people to condemn attacks against members of the media.
“I certainly don’t think that the president at any point has done anything but condemn violence against journalists or anyone else,” she said.
“In fact, every single time something like this happens the president is typically one of the first people to condemn the violence and the media is the first people to blame the president.”
A Coast Guard officer is accused of plotting to attack journalists and Democrat politicians. When asked if President Trump's anti-media rhetoric could have played a role, Sarah Sanders said Trump has not "at any point" done "anything but condemn violence against journalists." pic.twitter.com/Kg4IJaStdv— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 22, 2019
But journalists were quick to bring up instances in the past where Donald Trump has suggested that the media is out to get him. Trump has often labeled news critical of him as “fake” and has even called the media “enemy of the people.” Jamil Smith, a senior writer at Rolling Stones, refuted Trump’s defense, saying he was the one to blame when it comes to hostility against journalists.
“This is simply not true, @PressSec,” Smith wrote on Twitter.
“Encourages harassment at rallies. Gave Gianforte an atta-boy after he assaulted a reporter. Went soft on the Saudis after the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And this would-be terrorist was echoing Trump’s own rhetoric. Come on.”
The Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit that works to preserve journalists’ rights, also referred to Trump praising Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, who body-slammed a Guardian reporter for asking him a tough question during his re-election campaign, as an example of Trump supporting hostility against the media — a far cry from Sanders’ assertion.
“Any guy that can do a body-slam, he is my kind of guy…He’s my guy,” Trump had said praising Gianforte at the time.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump hasn't done anything "but condemn violence" against journalists.— Freedom of the Press (@FreedomofPress) February 22, 2019
Last October, after Rep. Gianforte body-slammed a reporter who asked him a question, Trump said: “Any guy that can do a body-slam, he is my kind of guy...He's my guy." https://t.co/ojm1hLqmm6