Angry ABC in ‘Open Hostility’ at Trump for ‘Shutting Down’ Free Speech

The journalists at ABC on Wednesday erupted in “open hostility” to Donald Trump, accusing the President of “shutting down part of the First Amendment” by not calling on network reporters at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jon Karl, Cecilia Vega and Matt Dowd repeatedly whined about the “conservative” questioners who were chosen, lamenting that the preferred narrative of the liberal media wasn’t highlighted. 

In the post-press conference coverage, Vega ranted, “I want to tell you about the open hostility right here in this room. You know, I'm sitting right here kind of in the middle of the pack of a number of journalists, mainstream reporters, if you will, and there is open anger in here about the fact the President did not take any real questions about the issue of the day.” 

The question of the day, according to Vega, was Michael Flynn’s resignation. Speaking for other journalists, she raged, “And so, you're feeling an open sense of anger and frustration here.” Reporter Karl sputtered, “George, it is astounding. We have now had four presidential news conferences and the President, for the most part, has simply avoided calling on people from news organizations.” 

Karl sneered that Trump called on “friendly conservative news organizations.” He lashed out: 

Amazing that on a day like this he could have a press conference and not face a single question on the big story of this, the New York Times bombshell report that members of his campaign allegedly had contacts with the Russians during the campaign. No questions on that. 

In regard to Flynn, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network mentioned him to the two leaders:

Both of you have criticized the Iran nuclear deal and at times even called for its repeal. I'm wondering if you're concerned at all as it relates to, not just the National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who is recently no longer here, but also some of those events going on with communication with Russia whether it would keep Iran from becoming a nuclear state. 

Brody, Townhall journalist Katie Pavlich and two Israeli reporters kept their queries on the actual subject of Netanyahu’s visit: Israel, a two state solution and Iran’s nuclear capability. 

ABC analyst Dowd increased the hyperbole, stating that Trump was dismantling the First Amendment: 

This is two democracies, two important democracies in the world and basically the President of the United States is shutting down part of the First Amendment by not taking certain questions that are going to be any way antagonistic. 

On February 10, Trump skipped the networks as he held a press conference with Japan’s prime minister. 

On February 13, he ignored the networks as he hosted Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. 

Partial transcripts of the reaction from ABC journalists can be found below: 

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ABC post-press conference coverage
2/15/17

12:43

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The New York Times reported senior members of his campaign aides and allies had repeated contacts with the Russians, senior Russian contacts during the election campaign. I think Jon Karl is with us right now. And Jon, the President was able to do that in part by calling on his favored people in the media, from Katie Pavlich from Townhall.com and David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. 

JON KARL: George, it is astounding. We have now had four presidential news conferences and the President, for the most part, has simply avoided calling on people from news organizations, from broadcast networks, from the wire services, from the major newspapers. He has consistently sought to call on friendly reporters, friendly conservative news organizations that would avoid asking him tough questions or questions on the news of the day. Amazing that on a day like this he could have a press conference and not face a single question on the big story of this, the New York Times bombshell report that members of his campaign allegedly had contacts with the Russians during the campaign. No questions on that. 

...

12:46

CECILIA VEGA: George, you mentioned open hostility there. I want to tell you about the open hostility right here in this room. You know, I’m sitting right here kind of in the middle of the pack of a number of journalists, mainstream reporters, if you will. And there is open anger in here about the fact the President did not take any real questions about the issue of the day and General Flynn. And you heard Jon and others shouting that question only to be ignored. There are serious questions that this administration has yet to answer on this and we didn't get those today because the President for continually now has called on a number of conservative, very friendly outlets. And so, you're feeling an open sense of anger and frustration here and I do want to echo back to that body language if you will between the Prime Minister and the President over that issue of settlements. It was a fascinating moment when the president turned to Netanyahu and said I want you to hold off and the prime minister threw his hands up and said “We'll wait and see.” They go into this meeting now. Strangely choreographed to have that meeting after this press conference but that's what they're doing right now in the White House. 

...

12:47

STEPHANOPOULOS: Clearly the White House has a strategy here with these press conferences and they probably don't mind the fact that the mainstream press is shouting about it. But how long can that last? 

MATT DOWD: Well, I was struck by when you look at this. This is two democracies, two important democracies in the world, and basically the President of the United States is shutting down part of the First Amendment by not taking certain questions that are going to be any way antagonistic in this. I think he thinks relying on his Twitter feed and sending it out to the millions of people that subscribe to it and then dealing with very cozy press is going to be the way to get through it. He’s bunkered down in this. But I'm going to go to something you mentioned, which is he basically said today that “I didn't fire—  you made me fire Michael Flynn. You the press who treated Michael Flynn so badly.” Basically was saying was, “If this hadn’t leaked and if this hadn't been in the papers I would have never fired Michael Flynn.” The other thing that I think he mentioned was he said the leaks that came out were criminal acts. That's what he said. The leaks were criminal acts and they were designed to cover up for an election loss. Basically saying the —  there were Democratic partisans who were committing crimes in order to cover up for an election loss. I have to say, an astounding moment for two democracies sitting there. 


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CyberAlerts ABC Video Jonathan Karl Cecilia Vega Matthew Dowd
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