Following a long line of verbal attacks against the press, President Donald Trump voiced his strong disapproval of two Washington Post reporters, according to POLITICO on September 7th, 2019. Following an op-ed piece that criticized the president in The Washington Post, Trump tweeted that reporters Phillip Rucker and Ashley Parker “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House” because of their “disgusting” and “fake” reporting.
The reporters’ op-ed piece, titled “Trump’s lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance,” detailed his actions which they claim divided the country, destabilized the economy, and failed to enhance his upcoming re-election campaign over the summer when Congress met back in August. Overall, the report focused on Trump’s numerous missed opportunities and acts of self-sabotage as president.
Four days later, Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary of the White House, co-wrote a follow-up article with her top deputy, Hogan Gidley, published in The Washington Examiner titled “The Washington Post’s lost summer.” The article defended Trump’s actions as president and heavily criticized the integrity and quality of reporting by The Washington Post.
Grisham has written articles against the Post before, specifically when an op-ed post was written criticizing the First Lady, Melania Trump.
Trump’s battle with the press has been ongoing since his candidacy. Since his election in 2016, Trump has referred to the press as “fake,” “out of control,” and “untrustworthy,” specifically targeting news sources such as The New York Times and CNN who have a record of reporting less favorable information regarding his presidency. In a more recent confrontation with the press, his claims about Hurricane Dorian reaching Alabama led to an uproar and widespread media analysis of his claim. Despite its falsity, he continued to assert its truth.
This is also not the first time he has specifically threatened to remove journalists from White House grounds. Back in May of 2019, the White House rescinded the press badges of dozens of journalists after imposing a new set of rules on journalists’ access to press conferences. After a heated exchange, reporter Jim Acosta of CNN news had his badge rescinded, only for the federal court to order the White House to return it to him, claiming his due process rights had been violated. Following the conflict, the White House imposed a set of rules that journalists must have attended at least 50% of White House press conferences in the period of their 180-day renewal in order to keep their badges.
Many journalists and news agencies fear that Trump’s attacks on a free press are only going to continue. Marty Baron, the executive director of The Washington Post, spoke out in defense of the two reporters under fire by President Trump.
“The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press,” he said. “It’s unwarranted and dangerous, and it represents a threat to a free press in this country.”
Trump’s negative view of the press impacts student journalists too. Alexis Lincoln, the News Editor of The Quad Student News Service, described her disappointment with Trump’s recent and ongoing remarks.
“As someone who works for a student news service, I know that journalists strive to inform the public of the truth, whether it paints our government in a positive or negative light,” she said in a message on the editorial board’s chat group. “Watching Trump try to silence journalists says to me that he has information he would prefer to be hidden from the public. Freedom of the press is our first amendment, and it’s disappointing to see our president fight against our rights.”
Students can read Phillip Rucker and Ashley Parker’s full op-ed piece in The Washington Post. Stephanie Grisham’s rebuke can be found in The Washington Examiner.
Sam Walsh is a fourth-year student majoring in special education and English. SW850037@wcupa.edu