Press advocate says conservative media feeds off victimization, resentment


The director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund said Friday that the conservative media has “grown on the back” of a sense of victimization and resentment towards the press.

James Risen also warned that it was the kind of rhetoric that leads to violence against journalists. Press Freedom Defense Fund provides support to journalists and news organizations.

“The whole conservative media industry has grown enormously and it’s grown on the back of the sense of victimization and resentment that conservatives have towards the press,” Jim Risen told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Mattie Duppler.

Risen, a former New York Times journalist who received threats from both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations for his work, said these feelings often times lead to violence against members of the press.

“That same resentment and victimization leads to violence in a lot of these cases because you end up with individuals who believe it’s just one step further beyond saying, ‘fake news [is] the enemy of the people, look at them right there, there they are,’” he said.

A man wearing a “Make America Great Again Hat” on Monday was captured on video shoving and swearing at BBC cameraman during President Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday.

A BBC spokeswomen later issued a statement, confirming the attack saying the cameraman was “violently pushed and shoved by a member of the crowd” while covering the rally.

According to BBC, the incident happened after Trump made critical remarks about the media at the rally.

The president has long held a contentious relationship with the media.

In addition to repeatedly calling the press the “enemy of the American people,” Trump often refers to outlets that are critical of his administration as “fake news.”

Risen called Trump’s “two-pronged attack” on the press unprecedented. In addition to going after reporters through legal action like previous administrations, he said the president is also trying to discredit the press and any negative coverage of his administration. 

“It’s a two-pronged attack and he’s trying to discredit the press in a way previous presidents haven’t done by genning up this whole idea of fake news and media as the enemy of the people,” he told Hill.TV. 

The former journalist added that had any one else in society espoused this kind of rhetoric, it would have been considered unacceptable and an “incitement of violence.”

—Tess Bonn


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