- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2018

Two human rights leaders who work with the United Nations on Thursday denounced President Trump’s rhetoric on the media as a violation of “basic norms of press freedom” this week.

David Kane, special rapporteurs on freedom of expression for the United Nations, and Edison Lanza, special rapporteurs on Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, released a joint statement that called the president’s words dangerous.

They specifically highlighted Mr. Trump’s “enemy of the people” phrase and warned that his rhetoric will increase the risk of violence toward journalists.

“Each time the President calls the media ‘the enemy of the people’ or fails to allow questions from reporters from disfavoured outlets,” the experts wrote, “he suggests nefarious motivations or animus. But he has failed to show even once that specific reporting has been driven by any untoward motivations.”

Mr. Kane and Mr. Lanza made an appeal for Mr. Trump to stop criticizing the press in his official capacity as president and condemn attacks against journalists, which they say include threats at his rallies.

They also called on the Department of Justice to stop prosecuting whistleblowers and leakers. The two experts say that practice undermines the media’s independence.

“Two years of attacks on the press could have long term negative implications for the public’s trust in media and public institutions. Two years is two years too much, and we strongly urge that President Trump and his administration and his supporters end these attacks,” Mr. Kane and Mr. Lanza said.

Tensions between the media and the Trump administration ramped up this week.

After being heckled at Mr. Trump’s Tampa rally Tuesday night, CNN reporter Jim Acosta said someone could get hurt by the outrage aimed at journalists. He called on White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to explicitly say that the press is not “the enemy of the people.” She responded that the president already made his opinion clear on the subject.

Mr. Trump doubled down on the messaging Thursday night, after his eldest daughter and a senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, disagreed with the phrase “enemy of the people” in a public interview. He specified that fake news, “which is a large percentage of the media,” is an enemy.


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