Washington: US President Donald Trump has called American journalists “unpatriotic” as he accused them of putting lives at risk by their reporting. “When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk! Very unpatriotic!” Trump said in a series of characteristic tweets.
“Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news accurately,” he said accusing the mainstream media of wrongful coverage. “Ninety per cent of media coverage of my administration is negative, despite the tremendously positive results we are achieving, it’s no surprise that confidence in the media is at an all time low!” he said. “I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry. No matter how much they try to distract and cover it up, our country is making great progress under my leadership and I will never stop fighting for the American people!” Trump said.
He alleged that “the failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories even on very positive achievements – and they will never change!” Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that he had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A G Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times. “Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People’. Sad!,” he said.
The account of the meeting was challenged by Sulzberger. “My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric. I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” said the NYT publisher. The meeting between the two took place at the White House on July 20. Sulzberger said the meeting was off the record, but Trump by tweeting about it had made it on the record.
“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labelling 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,” he said in a lengthy five-paragraph statement. “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,” he said.
Sulzberger said he warned Trump that “it was putting lives at risk, 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 emphasised that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world,” he said. “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,” he said.