The executive editor of the Washington Post has lashed back at President Trump over Trump’s verbal attack on two of the newspaper’s reporters. Not only did Trump in a tweet call the two reporters “nasty” and call their reporting “disgusting and fake”, he suggested that the pair should not even be allowed on White House grounds anymore, showing once again that Trump would like to silence those who are critical of them. In response the Washington Post issued a statement from Executive Editor Martin Baron, which read, in part, “The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press. It’s unwarranted and dangerous, and it represents a threat to a free press in this country.”
This latest battle in President Trump’s war on the press, which might more broadly be described as his war against anyone criticizing him, was sparked by a September 1 report in which Washington Post reporters Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker described, according to The Hill, “what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities.” The report did include information and quotes from the other side of the issue, those inside the Trump administration who disagree with that statement and who provided a list of what they described as Trump’s accomplishments over the summer. Some of those stated accomplishments, however, such as Trump meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, leave one scratching one’s head as to what was actually accomplished, other than a photo opportunity – no progress on disarmament came out of that meeting.
Dismayed by the Washington Post’s story, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham and Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley wrote an editorial in the Washington Examiner defending Trump’s summer record. It is only after that article that Trump today threw in an additional dose of invective directed at reporters Parker and Rucker, leading to responses both from the Washington Post’s executive editor and director of communications. According to The Hill:
Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron defended two of the newspaper’s reporters on Saturday after President Trump lashed out at them for critical coverage and threatened to ban them from the White House. “We stand fully behind them and their important work,” Baron said in a statement about the reporters, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker. “The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press.” … Parker and Rucker have been the target of White House ire in recent days over a report describing “what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities.” Trump called Parker and Rucker “two nasty lightweight reporters” in a tweet earlier Saturday, adding that they “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House.”
This was the full statement from Executive Editor Martin Baron, as tweeted by the Washington Post’s vice president of communications, Kris Coratti:
This latest tirade from Trump against the press also comes after news this week that the Trump administration had again lost in court over their attempt to revoke the press credentials of a White House reporter, in this case Playboy reporter Brian Karem. A U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of Karem, imposing an injunction to stop the suspension of Karem’s press credentials. Those credentials had been suspended by the White House after Karem got into a heated exchange with far conservative and former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka at a Rose Garden event Trump hosted regarding what he sees as media bias against conservative voices.
Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, calling them “the enemy of the people” and calling any reports critical of him “fake news”, are seen by many as emboldening crackdowns on freedom of the press in other countries and as emboldening individuals who might use violence against journalists, endangering journalists in the process. Meanwhile Trump himself is a purveyor of fake information, often making verifiably inaccurate statements multiple times a day.