- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sam Donaldson, who once served as ABC News’s chief Watergate correspondent, wrote in a CNN op-ed his support for CNN’s Jim Acosta and criticized the Trump administration for what he sees as a persistent stonewalling of the press.

“Friends and critics agree we have never seen a president like Donald J. Trump, whose disdain, even contempt and apparent hatred for many members of the press is almost daily on display,” Mr. Donaldson, who was ABC’s chief White House correspondent under Presidents Carter and Reagan, wrote.

“Acosta cites instance after instance when this President and many of his staff show that they are bent on interfering with the ability of reporters to bring the public an accurate account of the administration’s stewardship,” he said. “Trump’s wholesale attack on the mainstream press is wrong, and it is dangerous.”

Mr. Donaldson said that back when he covered the White House, as early as Kennedy’s administration, “press secretaries tried to put the best face on it when things went badly for their boss, but they didn’t lie to you.”

He added that White House journalists’ jobs are now much harder, citing rising personal attacks and Jim Acosta’s press pass being temporarily revoked last year.

“Compared to what I see today, my time covering Presidents and their press secretaries was a cakewalk,” he said. “Jim Acosta and the other hardworking men and women who cover the White House will continue the effort to do their job. And the news organizations who send them there will continue to back them up. I salute them and am proud to stand with them.”

Mr. Donaldson has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper in April that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the worse than Richard Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler, who lied about his president’s role in Watergate.

“Except for Ron Zeigler, who lied, for Richard Nixon, I’ve never seen anything like this with Sarah Sanders, and there’s a difference. Zeigler lied about one thing, the question of whether the president was covering up the Watergate burglary, but if you ask him something about foreign policy, domestic policy, some other thing, he would say what he thought the facts were and they often were truthful,” Mr. Donaldson said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” show.

“On the other hand, Sarah Sanders simply lies about everything, taking a cue from her boss. Not just one thing, she’s had a lifetime achievement Oscar for lying. Let’s face it, I don’t know her. I feel little sorry for her because it’s the boss who does it. She takes the cue from him. Leadership begins at the top and so does all the other things that happen in an administration,” he said.

Mrs. Sanders told investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that she lied to journalists about former FBI Director James B. Comey’s being unpopular within the bureau.

“No evidence suggests that the president heard otherwise before deciding to terminate Comey, and Sanders acknowledged to investigators that her comments were not founded on anything,” the report said.

Since the start of 2019, the White House has only held two press briefings.

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