When “Fake News” Hurts

(Photo by:Evan Vucci)

BY: ALLYSON ROCHE ’19

When Donald J. Trump began making a habit of describing unfavorable news reports as “fake news,” he may or may not have been unaware of the consequences that would ensue.

With the increasing verbal and cyber attacks he directs towards the media, journalists who cover him receive countless, daily insults and have even experienced many instances of violence.

CNN Newsroom anchor Brooke Baldwin said, “Some of the things his supporters have done to colleagues of mine who were covering him at his rallies [includes] keying cars and spitting on female reporters. Not the president, but people who had supported him. It is despicable to hear.” Journalists had been getting attacked while simply doing their job, covering the Trump campaign.

In her book, Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History, MSNBC Anchor and NBC correspondent Katy Tur detailed her 500+ days of traveling with the Trump campaign, documenting every wild moment. Ever since Trump’s first campaign event, he called Tur out, criticized her reporting, and gave her nicknames such as “Little Katy” and “third-rate-reporter.”

Six months into the campaign, Tur was required to enter and leave the rallies with Secret Service agents protecting her, which is not normal for the press.

Many of Trump’s supporters at rallies, Tur writes, “played a lot dirtier. They called me ugly and dumb. They accuse me of sleeping my way to my job. They go after my family, and especially my father, who is transgender… they threaten my life.” She recounts that “Trump himself never explicitly condoned the violence at his rallies, but he never condemned it, either.”

CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash has covered 6 presidential campaigns in her 23 years working at CNN, and has never seen anything like the rhetoric that Donald Trump uses with his reporters.

In an interview on The Daily Show, she explained that “there is nothing as jarring as being in the pen, because the press has to be in a press pen at these rallies for security and for other reasons. And there are thousands of people between you and the candidate, and it’s a huge crowd. Donald Trump will say ‘look at those people. They’re horrible. They’re scumbags, they’re the worst people, they’re so dishonest.’ And all of a sudden in unison, every single one of the people will turn around and stare at us. And it’s very creepy and scary. It really is.”

In July of 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a doctored video of himself body slamming a person with a CNN logo edited over his face. Many journalists feared what would happen to them, and wondered if Trump was endorsing violence against reporters. Founder of Axios, a news website, said that Trump is “putting reporters at real risk of retribution or violence.” Writer for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin said that “someone is going to do something awful to a journalist.”

Junior Aubrey Matalon ‘19 said that “Trump’s rhetoric, when talking about journalists, is dangerous. I have a couple of friends that want to be reporters, and I’m scared that in the future, they will be attacked for doing their jobs.”

Dominic Allegretti ‘19 said “if [Trump] is degrading people and making them feel unsafe to cover him, there needs to be changes made so those problems can be solved.”

President Trump continues to attack and media, and the journalists covering him continue to receive attacks on a daily basis. The press is protected by the first amendment, and as Dana Bash puts it, journalists are “people who really want to do their job and fill the very important role of the fourth estate.”

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