Hand it to President Trump. He knows his audience. Did you get a load of his hysterical cults at his rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania after Trump whipped them into a frenzy over the "horrible" journalists who cover the White House? It's not difficult to imagine one or more of these wild-eyed fanatics taking the next step.
MSNBC's Katy Tur, as professional as they come, told viewers she received an e-mail that read, "'I hope you get raped and killed.’... in case you want to argue that this has nothing to do with the president, the most recent note I got ended with 'MAGA.'" Tur added such threats come into her newsroom every day.
Trump supporters in Tampa looked like they were ready to tear CNN's Jim Acosta apart as he tried to do a post-rally live stand-up. When Acosta later asked Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to state clearly that the press isn't the “enemy of the people,” as the president has repeatedly declared, she refused.
"Fellow Americans are not the enemy of fellow Americans," Acosta told viewers after his run-in with Huckabee Sanders. "Forgive me for going on a rant, but I think that they've lost sight of that here at this White House."
What responsible adult, let alone the President of the United States, thinks this is acceptable? Apparently, Trump does. His fragile ego simply can't handle the accurate reports about his administration filed by journalists doing their jobs. While it’s true a lot of the coverage is negative, who’s responsible for that? Most of the damage within the White House is self-inflicted.
A free press is essential to democracy. Thus, America must set the example. But Trump's attacks on the U.S. media give the green light to dictators around the world to go after their journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders, 65 reporters and media workers were murdered worldwide in 2017.
New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger recently met with Trump during which he expressed concern about the president’s "deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric," that is "eroding" the First Amendment. Trump, of course, said the meeting was about “fake news.”
If I were a journalist covering Trump, I would be extremely worried about my personal safety anytime I get around a crowd of his fans. Acosta, for one, now has security when he covers Trump rallies. He Tweeted he is "very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt."
When he appeared on Fox News’ “Outnumbered,” politics editor Chris Stirewalt said media should stop covering Trump rallies, this after Media Matters for America reported Fox has given Trump campaign rallies wall-to-wall coverage at a value of more than $15 million.
"Everybody should stop having reporters penned up like veal in the back of those things for the president to use as a prop,” Stirewalt noted, “and then some of the reporters exploit that for their own personal benefit…this is not helping anybody. Get out of the hall. Leave the cameras, get the reporters out of the hall. Quit letting him use you as a foil."
Kevin Foley owns KEF Media Associates, Inc., an Atlanta-based producer and distributor of electronic publicity. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.