The Overseas Press Club of America is alarmed by the increasingly hostile attacks on the news media by the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. We urge the president to reaffirm his commitment to the First Amendment and his respect for the vital role of a free press in safeguarding democracy.
Mr. Trump spent decades wooing reporters as a real estate developer and reality television personality but made disdain for the media a prominent part of his presidential campaign. Since he took office on Jan. 20, his attacks have become even more disturbing.
On February 17, less than one month after his inauguration, the president wrote on Twitter: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” On Feb. 24, he called news organizations “a great danger to our country” and he threatened reprisals against journalists by saying “we’re going to do something about it.”
The president uses the term “fake news” to discredit reputable news organizations whose work he dislikes. He has described the news media as liars engaged in a conspiracy against him. He has verbally abused reporters at the White House and at campaign rallies. He has barred established news organizations, including The New York Times, the BBC, and CNN, from press briefings in defiance of their audiences’ right to information distributed by the presidential administration.
As an association committed to upholding the highest standards of international journalism and to defending press freedom worldwide, the Overseas Press Club finds it completely unacceptable for the President of the United States to engage in such petty and brute attacks on news organizations. The news media is not the enemy of the people: not in the United States and not in any country in the world.
“The United States has a long history of vigorous journalism, and President Trump is wrong if he believes he will intimidate or silence us,” said Deidre Depke, president of the Overseas Press Club. “The right to freedom of speech is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The president’s attitude toward the press dishonors that history. Promoting a free press that speaks truth to power is not a partisan issue.”
The Overseas Press Club is an international association of journalists based in New York City that works to encourage the highest standards in journalism, to educate the next generation of foreign correspondents and to promote international press freedom and the well-being of colleagues in the field.