President Trump slammed The Boston Globe Thursday for leading a widespread editorial page protest with more than 350 U.S. and international newspapers, dismissing the coordinated effort as “collusion.”
Earlier in the morning, Mr. Trump declared the “fake news media” to be the opposition party and bad for America on Thursday, as hundreds of newspapers protested the president’s constant media criticism.
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The president defended himself and accused the media of “pushing a political agenda” and “trying to hurt people.”
The newspapers published editorials to push back on Mr. Trump’s accusations that major news organizations, by trafficking in “fake news” have become “the enemy of the people.” The publications ranged from major national papers like The New York Times and The Denver Post to small local papers, in addition to international publications like The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.
The protest started last week with a call from The Boston Globe to publish editorials supporting the need for a free press.
“Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘The enemy of the people.’ This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences,” The Globe wrote.
To the delight of his supporters and disdain of his enemies, Mr. Trump has long employed a strategy of attacking the press to generate headlines.
Media analysts marveled at his success during the 2016 presidential campaign, noting that his combative, non-mainstream approach generated an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion worth of free media and or advertising.
On Thursday, the media blasted back.
The New Yorker magazine denounced the president’s use of the term “fake news,” arguing that the same tactic to dismiss critical reporting is favored by other living “autocrats” including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
“Nearly every day, Trump makes his hostility clear,” the editorial said. “He refers to reporters as ‘scum,’ ‘slime,’ and ‘sick people.’ They are cast as unpatriotic — ‘I really think they don’t like our country,’ he says.”
Some papers were concerned about how the massive coordinated effort would appear.
“A coordinated response from independent — dare we say ‘mainstream’ — news organizations feeds a narrative that we’re somehow aligned against this Republican president,” The Baltimore Sun wrote, while asserting that insults undermining the press are dangerous.
The Los Angeles Times included critiques of the president in their editorial, but declined to join the protest, “because we value our independence.
“The idea of joining together to protest him seems almost to encourage that kind of conspiracy thinking by the president and his loyalists. Why give them ammunition to scream about ‘collusion’?” editor Nicholas Goldberg wrote.
Some more conservative outlets dismissed The Globe’s campaign, including Townhall.com, which called it a “pathetic bid to pretend it [The Globe] is still relevant.”
The Wall Street Journal also declined to participate.
Mr. Trump’s hometown tabloid newspaper, The New York Post, which tends to support him, had some fun with the overall idea.
“Just because we print inconvenient truths doesn’t mean that we’re fake news, but being a journalist isn’t a popularity contest. All we can do is to keep reporting,” Post editorialists wrote.
Mr. Trump’s doubling down on press criticism came nearly a month after a deadly shooting at the Capitol Gazette in Maryland. On June 28, a man with a shotgun blasted his way into the newsroom and shot five employees, four of them journalists. While the shooting suspect was shown to have had a long history of animosity toward the paper, many argue the president’s rhetoric contribute to the threats journalists’ fate.
According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, 31 journalists have been attacked and 3 arrested in 2018.
The latest attack on journalists did not come from Trump fans though, as reporters covering the “Unite the Right 2” rally over the weekend in D.C. were threatened and attacked by “antifa” counterprotesters.