Will no one rid Trump of these meddlesome journalists?
Trump chose Friday — the one-year anniversary of the murder of five journalists and employees by a mass shooter at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland — to laugh with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin about his desire to eliminate journalists he does not like.
“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?” Trump said while seated next to Putin at the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan. “You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do,” Trump said directly to Putin.
Putin responded in English, saying, “We also have. It’s the same.”
Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs noted that the two leaders “shared a chuckle” during the chilling exchange.
Exactly one year ago, a gunman entered the office of the Capital Gazette and murdered Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Robert Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith, and Gerald Fischman with a shotgun. It marked the deadliest day for journalism since the 9/11 terror attacks, and brought renewed criticism of Trump’s dangerous rhetoric attacking the news media.
But on the one-year anniversary of the murder, Trump decided to attack the free press in front of Putin — even though dozens of journalists have been murdered in Russia during Putin’s tenure.
“A President of the United States must understand — and care — just how dangerous and undemocratic this is,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote on Twitter in response to Trump’s interaction with Putin. Trump “fails this basic test, over and over and over again. 31 journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin rose to power, according to @pressfreedom data.”
“On the one-year anniversary of the deadliest newsroom shooting in American history, this is totally unacceptable,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) wrote. “It would be on any day, but today it is especially reprehensible.”
Amb. Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama, was likewise upset by Trump’s remarks.
“This is disgusting. Thinking of all my murdered, censored, and unemployed journalist friends in Russia now,” McFaul said.
Trump has repeatedly referred to journalists, particularly news outlets that may criticize his policies, as the “enemy of the people” or even the “opposition party.”
In February, the publisher of the New York Times said Trump’s language is “encouraging threats and violence against journalists.” After Trump accused the Times of treason, a crime punishable by death, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by the publisher of the rival New York Times, writing that Trump’s rhetoric “crosses a dangerous line in the president’s campaign against a free and independent press.”
“On the one-year anniversary of the deadliest newsroom shooting in American history, this is totally unacceptable. It would be on any day, but today it is especially reprehensible.”
Trump’s disdain toward both the free press and the slain journalists in Maryland was on full display as he laughed with a murderous Russian dictator about getting rid of journalists.
Published with permission of The American Independent.