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CNN Panel Calls Out Trump’s Attacks on AT&T Over CNN Coverage: ‘Completely Outrageous and Wrong’

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin took dead aim at President Donald Trump for his public endorsement of a boycott of the media corporation AT&T over the critical coverage its subsidiary, CNN, has given this administration: “It’s completely outrageous and wrong.”

Trump posted a tweet earlier on Monday where he once again blasted CNN — a longtime nemesis — as “all negative” and “fake news,” without any specific evidence or claims. He went on to encourage US consumers to stop “using or subscribing” to CNN’s parent company so it would be “forced to make big changes” at the news channel.

“The president is calling on Americans to boycott a big American company here because he doesn’t like coverage,” guest host John Berman noted on Anderson Cooper 360.

“When I heard that, saw that tweet, I thought of what Attorney General [Bill] Barr said lasted week, where he said to CBS, you know, it’s not the president who has violated norms,” Toobin noted. “If this tweet isn’t a fundamental violation of every norm that presidents have operated by, which is you don’t use the power of the presidency to punish individual companies. Anything like this. Particularly in relating to the press. It’s just an example of how this president acts in a way that no president in modern American history has acted. It’s completely outrageous and wrong.”

Press freedom advocacy groups have routinely sounded the alarm over Trump’s ongoing anti-press rhetoric. After his latest outburst on Monday, PEN America strongly condemned it as an implied threat against independent journalism. “The president’s ill-informed proposal that consumers boycott a major U.S. corporation because of news coverage that he finds unfavorable makes plain the self-serving, insidious nature of his attacks on the media and his total disregard for the principle of press freedom,” the group said in a press release. “The president is free to voice his opinion, but efforts to retaliate against news coverage he dislikes strike at the heart of our constitutional rights.”

Fellow CNN panelist and political analyst David Gergen shared Toobin’s concerns about the president so egregiously over-stepping the principles of free press and free enterprise. He noted that Trump singling out a news organization for potential retribution is not unprecedented, however. President Richard Nixon, Gergen pointed out, wanted to revoke the broadcast license of the Washington Post because of that newspaper’s dogged coverage of the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down his presidency.

Gergen went on to highlight the hypocrisy of a purported conservative attempting to used the power of the presidency to punish a business or news organization. “It is fundamental to conservatives that the government not interfere, that Washington not reach in and try to direct individual companies. That’s an interference with the free markets and free markets are fundamental to conservative thought,” he pointed out. “But this is the antithesis of conservative values to pinpoint an American company and try to hurt them.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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