President Donald Trump and his administration are engaged in an unprecedented war on the press, which began during his presidential campaign and continued into the transition period. Trump and his administration’s continued attacks on the press pose a distinct threat to our First Amendment freedoms, and Media Matters is devoted to tracking them. If you know of an attack by Trump or his administration on a journalist or media outlet that should be added to this list, email email@example.com with a link to the abuse. We will update this list regularly.
New Jersey Reporter Said There Was A “Blackout On Regional Newspapers” At The Inauguration. Poynter quoted Jonathan Salant, a Washington correspondent for NJ Advance Media who has covered inaugurations since 1989, saying, “The presidential inaugural committee imposed a blackout on regional newspapers with Washington correspondents.” Salant added that he had “never seen such disdain for the media.”
Jonathan Salant, Washington correspondent for NJ Advance Media who has covered every presidential inauguration since 1989, informs me of the following:
"The presidential inaugural committee imposed a blackout on regional newspapers with Washington correspondents. They never returned emails, never responded to requests and denied everyone credentials to cover the Trump inaugural events but never told anyone so reporters had to wait on lines to pick up non-existent credentials."
They wouldn't even let reporters pick up their already-approved Secret Service credentials, Salant said.
"The Regional Reporters Association email list was buzzing the last two days as Washington reporters from papers across the country traded stories of not being told anything about their credentials, and being turned away when they showed up to try to find out anything," he said.
Salant has "never seen such disdain for the media," he said. [Poynter, 1/20/17]
President Donald Trump: “I Have A Running War With The Media.” During a visit to CIA headquarters, President Donald Trump said he has “a running war with the media” and called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
The New York Times noted that Trump “unleash[ed] a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.” Trump accused the media of lying and claimed, “I think they’re going to pay a big price.” From a January 21 New York Times article:
President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.
In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.
He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.
On Saturday, he said journalists were responsible for any suggestion that he was not fully supportive of intelligence agencies’ work.
“I have a running war with the media,” Mr. Trump said. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, and they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.”
Mr. Trump also took issue with news reports about the number of people who attended his inauguration, complaining that the news media used photographs of “an empty field” to make it seem as if his inauguration did not draw many people.
“We caught them in a beauty,” Mr. Trump said of the news media, “and I think they’re going to pay a big price.” [The New York Times, 1/21/17]
Trump Personally Attacked Time Reporter For Incorrect Tweet On MLK Jr. Bust, Even Though The Reporter "Quickly Acknowledged And Corrected The Mistake." During his CIA visit, Trump also personally attacked Time reporter Zeke Miller for “mistakenly reporting that a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office,” according to The Hill. Miller "quickly acknowledged and corrected the mistake." Trump said the incident demonstrated “‘how dishonest the media is.’” From the January 21 article:
President Trump on Saturday attacked a Time magazine journalist for mistakenly reporting that a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.
Trump called out the reporter, Zeke Miller, while speaking to staff at the Central Intelligence Agency, even though Miller quickly acknowledged and corrected the mistake the previous day.
“They said that ‘Donald Trump took down the bust — the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King.’ But it was right there. There was a cameraman that was in front of it,” Trump said, standing in front of the CIA’s Memorial Wall honoring the employees who died in the line of duty.
“So Zeke, Zeke from Time magazine writes this story about ‘I took down’ — I would never do that because I have great respect for Dr. Martin Luther King.
“But this is how dishonest the media is,” Trump continued. “Now big story, the retraction was like, where? Was it a line or do they even bother putting it in?” [The Hill, 1/21/17]
Press Secretary Sean Spicer Falsely Claimed Media “Engaged In Deliberately False Reporting” On Inauguration Crowd Size. In his first official statement from the White House press briefing room on January 21, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that “some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” again attacking Miller for his “irresponsible and reckless” tweet about the Martin Luther King Jr. bust. He also falsely claimed that media reported “inaccurate numbers involving crowd size” at the inauguration and falsely claimed, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period.” Spicer added, “We're going to hold the press accountable.” From Politico’s transcript:
SEAN SPICER: Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the President said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting. For all the talk about the proper use of Twitter, two instances yesterday stand out.
One was a particular egregious example in which a reporter falsely tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong, the reporter casually reported and tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have just been standing in front of it. This was irresponsible and reckless.
Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. This was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual. This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.
Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted. No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out. By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protestors today in the same fashion.
We do know a few things, so let's go through the facts. We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office. We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama's last inaugural. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period -- both in person and around the globe. Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.
The President is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address. This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging -- that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult.
There's been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I'm here to tell you that it goes two ways. We're going to hold the press accountable, as well. The American people deserve better. And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be. [Politico, 1/21/17; CNNMoney.com, 1/21/17]
Trump Team Refused To Send A Representative To CNN’s Sunday Show The Day After CNN Opted Not To Air The Spicer Presser Live. Trump and his team refused to send a representative to appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the major political talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co. At the top of the January 22 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper said that his show “asked the Trump White House for a member of the new administration to join us this morning, but they declined.” The refusal came a day after CNN chose not to air the live feed of Spicer’s press conference. [Media Matters, 1/22/17]
White House Chief Of Staff Reince Priebus: “There’s An Obsession By The Media To Delegitimize This President, And We Are Not Going To Sit Around And Let It Happen.” Making an appearing on Fox News Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus attempted to spin a question about Spicer’s press conference by lashing out at media reporting. When asked why Trump would bring up crowd size, Pribus replied that “it’s not about crowd size. It’s about honesty in the media.” Priebus continued to lash out at the media, claiming that “there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president, and we are not going to sit around and let it happen. We’re going to fight back tooth and nail every day, and twice on Sunday.” Like Trump and Spicer, Priebus also brought up Miller’s mistaken tweet to try to cast blame on the media at large:
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): President Trump said in his inaugural address that every decision he makes will be to benefit American families. How does arguing about crowd size do that?
REINCE PRIEBUS: Because it’s really not about crowd size. What it’s about is honesty in the media.
WALLACE: Wait a minute, he could have given a news conference yesterday, talked about the agenda, talked about the signing, the executive actions he's going to sign, his legislative agenda. He talks about crowd size. Let me ask you about one --
PRIEBUS: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Let's back up. We didn't tweet out that MLK Jr.'s bust was removed from the Oval Office. We didn’t --
WALLACE: Wait a minute, the reporter made a mistake, he apologized. And Spicer sent him a tweet back saying "apology accepted".
PRIEBUS: Right, so these are the mistakes that are made. A reporter shoots first, aims later. I think the magnitude --
WALLACE: Are you saying there's a conspiracy here?
PRIEBUS: I’m saying there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president, and we are not going to sit around and let it happen. We’re going to fight back tooth and nail every day, and twice on Sunday. [FoxNews.com, 1/22/17; Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 1/23/17]
Kellyanne Conway: If The Press Is “Going To Keep Referring To Our Press Secretary In Those Terms, I Think We're Going To Have To Rethink Our Relationship Here.” Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, speaking to NBC host Chuck Todd, criticized Todd for saying Spicer uttered a “provable falsehood” at his press briefing, saying, “Chuck, if we're going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think we're going to have to rethink our relationship here.” Conway defended Spicer’s press briefing, claiming that he simply gave “alternative facts” about the inauguration crowd size, and she attacked Miller for his tweet about the Martin Luther King Jr. bust. From the January 22 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press:
CHUCK TODD (HOST): You make a very reasonable and rational case for why crowd sizes don't matter, then explain -- you did not answer the question. Why did the president send out his press secretary, who's not just the spokesperson for Donald Trump, he also serves as the spokesperson for all of America at times. He speaks for all of the country at times, why put him out there for the very first time in front of that podium to utter a provable falsehood? It's a small thing, but the first time he confronts the public, it's a falsehood?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Chuck, if we're going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think we're going to have to rethink our relationship here. I want to have a great, open relationship with our press. But look what happened the day before, talking about falsehoods. We allowed the press to come into the Oval Office and witness President Trump signing executive orders. Of course the Senate just confirmed General Mattis and General Kelly to their two posts, and we allow the press in, and what happens almost immediately? A falsehood is told about removing the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. That's just flat out false.
TODD: And it was corrected immediately. But Kellyanne --
CONWAY: But, Chuck, why was it said? Chuck, why was it said in the first place? Because everybody is so presumptively negative --
TODD: I don't know. Climb into the head of that reporter.
CONWAY: Oh no, no, no, that reporter was writing on behalf of the press pool. That falsehood, that spread 3,000 times before it was corrected. And it's still out there.
TODD: Excuse me, it does not excuse, and you did not answer the question --
CONWAY: I did answer your question.
TODD: No you did not. You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House Press Office on day one.
CONWAY: No it doesn't, don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You're saying it's a falsehood, and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains that there's --
TODD: Wait, wait, alternative facts? Alternative facts -- four of the five facts he uttered. The one thing he got right was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods. [NBC, Meet the Press, 1/22/17]
Conway: “No Defense 4 Press Lies About MLK Jr. Bust.” Defending her Meet the Press interview, Conway wrote on Twitter, “Watch entire clip! No defense 4 press lies about MLK Jr. bust; actual facts about women in poverty, w/ no health care, failing schools”: [MORE]