Nets Decry Trump’s ‘All-Out War on Journalists,’ Making Press ‘A Constant Boogeyman’

Monday’s network morning shows were aghast at President Trump continuing to criticize the liberal media with a Friday tweet in which he labeled them “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people.” In response, the ABC, NBC, and CBS broadcasts accused him of “declaring an all-out war on journalists” and compared Trump to Richard Nixon in the midst of Watergate.

On ABC’s Good Morning America, correspondent Cecilia Vega highlighted how the President “hit the road for a re-election rally” while “taking aim at his favorite target, the media,” remarking that “No Donald Trump rally would be complete without a healthy dose of media bashing.” She then proclaimed: “The latest onslaught follows this tweet, the President declaring all-out war on journalists, calling them ‘The enemy of the American people.’”

On NBC’s Today, correspondent Kristen Welker declared: “As a candidate, President Trump often targeted the media....But now as president, he’s finding it's a tactic that still works. Over the weekend, he turned up his rhetoric, and that is drawing a sharp new backlash.” She noted: “The sharp barbs coming after Mr. Trump set the stage in a stinging tweet in which the President called the press “the enemy of the American people.”

Following clips of Trump denouncing the press during a rally in Florida, Welker warned: “Some of the President's critics are raising alarm bells, noting he's using similar language President Richard Nixon used during a private phone call at the height of the Watergate scandal.” A soundbite played of Nixon’s White House tapes: “Remember we’re going to be around and outlive our enemies. And also never forget, the press is the enemy. The press is the enemy.”

Welker concluded: “The press, a constant boogeyman for the new president.”

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On CBS This Morning, correspondent Major Garrett fretted: “President Trump's sharp criticism of skeptical news coverage continued. In one tweet, he called the leading news organizations ‘the enemy of the American people.’”

All three shows also touted Senator John McCain implying Trump’s media criticism signaled the first step on the road to tyranny, playing the same clip of the Arizona Republican telling Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd: “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press and without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.”

Here are excerpts of the coverage from the February 20 morning shows:

Good Morning America
7:05 AM ET

(...)

CECILIA VEGA: The President hit the road for a re-election rally and he is taking aim at his favorite target, the media....No Donald Trump rally would be complete without a healthy dose of media bashing.

DONALD  TRUMP: When the media lies to people, I will never ever let them get away with it, I will do whatever I can that they don't get away with it. They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda.

VEGA: The latest onslaught follows this tweet the president declaring all-out war on journalists calling them the enemy of the American people. Republican Senator John McCain quick to denounce the attack.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press and without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.

VEGA: Even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace says the president went too far.

CHRIS WALLACE: Look, we're big boys. We criticize presidents. They want to criticize us back, that's fine but the fake news media is not my enemy, it's the enemy of the American people, I believe that crosses an important line.

VEGA: But White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus coming to the president's defense.

REINCE PRIEBUS: The problem we've got is that we're talking about bogus stories and I think that the media needs to in some cases, not every case, John, but in some cases really needs to get its act together.

(...)


Today
7:12 AM ET

(...)

KRISTEN WELKER: As a candidate, President Trump often targeted the media. It was a guaranteed way to fire up his political base. But now as president, he’s finding it's a tactic that still works. Over the weekend, he turned up his rhetoric, and that is drawing a sharp new backlash.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Vs. The Media; President Blasts Press, Calls Them the “Enemy of the People”]

As President Trump tries to reset his White House, he's again using the media as his foil, lashing out during a campaign-style rally in Florida.

DONALD TRUMP: They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda.

WELKER: During that Saturday event, the President excoriated the press at least half a dozen times, escalating a long-standing fight.

TRUMP: I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news. When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it.

WELKER: The sharp barbs coming after Mr. Trump set the stage in a stinging tweet in which the President called the press “the enemy of the American people.”

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is, we need you.

WELKER: On Meet the Press, Republican Senator John McCain laid into the President.

MCCAIN: You have to have a free, and many times, adversarial press. And without it, I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator, I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.

WELKER: Some of the President's critics are raising alarm bells, noting he's using similar language President Richard Nixon used during a private phone call at the height of the Watergate scandal.

RICHARD NIXON: Remember we’re going to be around and outlive our enemies. And also never forget, the press is the enemy. The press is the enemy.
WELKER: At a press conference on Thursday, the President went after the media nine times, blaming the press for badly treating his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who Trump fired last week.

TRUMP: I want to see an honest press.

WELKER: Now, the strategy appears to be in full force, with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus toeing the line against the media on the Sunday shows.

REINCE PRIEBUS: The media is obsessed with a lot of false, hollow stories.

WELKER: And facing tough questions.

CHRIS WALLACE [FOX NEWS SUNDAY]: You don’t get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I gotta say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people.

WELKER: The press, a constant boogeyman for the new president.        

(...)


CBS This Morning
7:09 ET AM

(...)

DONALD TRUMP: I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news.

MAJOR GARRETT: President Trump's sharp criticism of skeptical news coverage continued. In one tweet, he called the leading news organizations “the enemy of the American people.”    

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Targeting the Press; President Criticized for Attack on the News Media]

REINCE PRIEBUS: I think you should take it serious seriously.
        
GARRETT: On Face the Nation, Priebus said the President is right to attack the press.

PRIEBUS: So we spend, you know. 48 hours on bogus stories and the American people suffer. So I do think it's a problem.

GARRETT: Arizona Republican John McCain, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, said the President’s language crossed a line.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.

(...)

NB Daily Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Cecilia Vega Kristen Welker Major Garrett Donald Trump

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