Trump’s Attacks on the Press: Telling Escalation coming from Empty Threats

“One has to suppose of which he’s looking for ways to shock people,” Russell Baker, the gimlet-eyed longtime observer of Washington, said in a rare interview on Thursday.


“One has to suppose of which he’s looking for ways to shock people,” said Russell Baker, a former completely new York Times columnist in addition to author.

Richard Howard/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

He seemed not so worked up about This kind of most recent fusillade against the press. “This kind of may go through, or he might probably forget about This kind of,” said Mr. Baker, 92, a former columnist for The Times. “is actually anybody shocked anymore? He’s used This kind of up. This kind of can only last so long.”

Mr. Trump seems to think like a television producer, a trait recently criticized by Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. in addition to as the makers of political thrillers like “House of Cards” in addition to “Scandal” know all too well, television must ratchet up the stakes lest viewers lose interest.

The president has already called the news media “the enemy of the American people,” in addition to his tweets about “fake news,” once a reliable prompter of fury, increasingly feel like a part of Washington’s white noise.

“What else could he say of which he hasn’t already said?” Bob Schieffer, the broadcasting eminence who formerly anchored “CBS Evening News” in addition to hosted “Face the Nation,” said in an interview on Thursday.

Seen-This kind of-all veterans may take Mr. Trump’s recent statements using a few grains of salt. nevertheless two former White House officials turned pundits, David Axelrod in addition to Robert Reich, warned of creeping autocracy. in addition to advocacy groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists were moved to point out of which such words, issued coming from the presidential pulpit, can embolden dictators who are more empowered than Mr. Trump to shape or censor coverage.

In an instance of irony of which Mr. Baker might appreciate, Mr. Trump’s State Department issued a pro-media statement — around the time of which the president was jabbing NBC — of which condemned Turkish authorities who had sentenced a Wall Street Journal reporter to prison.


Bob Schieffer at the CBS offices in Washington in 2015.

T.J. kirkpatrick for The completely new York Times

“Freedom of expression, including for speech in addition to the media — even speech which some find controversial or uncomfortable — strengthens democracy in addition to needs to be protected,” a State Department spokesman said. “More voices, not fewer, are necessary in challenging times.”

Mr. Schieffer, 80, whose book, “Overload: Finding Truth inside Deluge of News,” was released This kind of month, said the news media was playing a crucial civic role.

“This kind of is actually our assignment coming from the founders,” he said. “Check out what the politicians are saying. Give people information on whether This kind of’s true or false.”

This kind of stands to reason of which Mr. Trump’s latest rhetorical thrusts — amplified by the megaphone of Twitter in addition to 24-hour cable coverage — have had at least an ambient affect on Americans’ trust inside press. The divide between Republicans’ in addition to Democrats’ perception of the news media is actually growing.

Still, a poll by Reuters This kind of month found of which trust inside news media has ticked upward. Nearly half of Americans surveyed said they had “some” or a “great deal” of confidence inside press, up coming from 39 percent last November. In of which same period, trust in Mr. Trump slipped.

The president often uses shocking statements to steer the focus of coverage. On Wednesday, amid a stalled legislative agenda in addition to reports of West Wing turmoil, he told reporters inside Oval Office: “This kind of’s frankly disgusting the way the press is actually able to write whatever they want to write, in addition to people should look into This kind of.”

Those words chilled Mr. Schieffer. “We have to take of which very seriously,” he said.

Mr. Trump may be threatening a crackdown, nevertheless his team’s courtship of the news media goes on. On Thursday, the White House press office emailed reporters an invitation for a traditional Halloween party. “Trick-or-treating will take place on Friday, October 27,” the note read. “All White House press corps are invited to bring their children to the event.”

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