President Donald Trump raised a lot of eyebrows with an early morning tweet suggesting that the Senate Intelligence Committee should investigate media outlets he deems to be “Fake News!”
Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2017
Though it may have been just a rhetorical aside, many saw this as a chilling threat to the first amendment rights that ensures every citizen free speech (and more to the point, free press.) The fact that the President would even suggest that the U.S. government should go after media outlets that he feels — rather subjectively — are spreading what he deems to be “fake news” is a very dangerous precedent. As we’ve written before, negative coverage, or even misreporting, really don’t rise to the what the understanding of what we’ve long considered to be propaganda (or “”fake news.”) Though President Trump has had some success in redefining the term.
Enter CNN’s Jim Acosta into the White House Press Briefing today, who has held something of an inimical role to the White House communications department. Given that the Second Amendment is in the ether after Sunday night’s deadly Las Vegas shooting, Acosta challenged Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Trump’s tweet.
Acosta opened by noting the news outlined above, stating “the president tweets this morning he’d like to see the Senate intelligence committee investigate news outlets and I guess this quest to go after fake news.” He then asked “Does he value the First Amendment as much as he values the Second Amendment?”
Huckabee Sanders, to her credit, did not demur in her reply, saying “Absolutely. The president is an incredible advocate of the First Amendment.” She then pivoted to pointing out the vast amount of negative coverage that this White House has endured, saying:
We’ve seen recent information that says only 5% of media coverage has been positive about this president and this administration while at the same time you have the stock market and economic confidence at an all-time high, ISIS is on the run, unemployment at the lowest it’s been in 17 years, weave cut regulations at historic pace, fixing the VA. With you’ve only found 5% of your time to focus on those big issues. No a lot of the things you cover, not a lot of the petty palace intrigue that you spend your time on, I think we need to move towards a certainly more fair, more accurate and frankly a more responsible news media for the American people.
Sanders is citing reports of negative coverage for Trump as evidence of bias. But that ignores many variables, namely the shaky first nine months that the Trump administration has endured and the departure of many senior officials (Michael Flynn, Mike Dubke, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, etc) as well as numerous investigations, an FBI Director firing and inflammatory comments made after a deadly protest of racists and white nationalists. Again, a lack of positive coverage does not prove bias, especially for an administration that has so uniquely struggled.
Acosta tried to go back for another follow up, but was predictably shut down by Ms. Sanders.
Watch the clip above, courtesy of CNN.
–image via screen capture–
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