UN Human Rights experts: Trump attacks on media violate press freedom norms

UN Human Rights experts: Trump attacks on media violate press freedom norms
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Human rights experts with the United Nations condemned President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE’s verbal attacks on the media, saying his administration needs to promote a “vibrant” free press and stop going after journalists.

David Kaye, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and Edison Lanza, special rapporteur of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, issued a joint statement on Thursday in response to Trump’s repeated attacks on the media.

“His attacks are strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts,” Kaye and Lanza said in the statement.


“These attacks run counter to the country’s obligations to respect press freedom and international human rights law,” the experts added.

Kaye and Lanza pointed out that Trump frequently labels the press as the “enemy of the American people,” “very dishonest” and “fake news.”

Trump has also accused the media of “distorting democracy” and spreading “conspiracy theories and blind hatred,” the experts said.

“Each time the President calls the media ‘the enemy of the people’ or fails to allow questions from reporters from disfavoured outlets, he suggests nefarious motivations or animus,” the experts said in the U.N. statement.

“But he has failed to show even once that specific reporting has been driven by any untoward motivations,” the pair added.

Trump often rails against CNN and lashed out at the network during an international press conference last month with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The president refused to take questions from CNN’s Jim Acosta and called the network “fake news.”

“Let’s go to a real network,” Trump added, taking a question from John Roberts of Fox News.

He spent most of his rally on Thursday night in Pennsylvania railing against the way the media has covered his presidency. 

Kaye and Lanza also called on members of Trump’s administration to stop efforts to undermine the media’s role in “holding government accountable, honest and transparent.”

The statement from the U.N. experts came the same day that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got into a heated exchange with Acosta over the Trump White House calling the press “an enemy.”

Sanders refused to say, as Acosta requested, during Thursday’s press briefing that the press was not the enemy of the people.

The president has “made his position clear,” Sanders said.

Trump often prides himself on his contentious relationship with the press and reportedly told former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHillary 2024? Given the competition, she may be the Dems' best hope Trump draws attention with admission he 'fired Comey' Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE last year that putting reporters in jail may be an effective way to stop staffers from leaking information.

Kaye and Lanza also urged the Trump administration to avoid pursuing legal cases against journalists in an effort to identify confidential sources.

“We stand with the independent media in the United States, a community of journalists and publishers and broadcasters long among the strongest examples of professional journalism worldwide,” the U.N. experts said. “We especially urge the press to continue, where it does so, its efforts to hold all public officials accountable.”

The U.N. experts urged Trump to end the attacks on journalists, which began on the campaign trail when he was running for president. 

“Two years of attacks on the press could have long term negative implications for the public’s trust in media and public institutions,” Kaye and Lanza said. “Two years is two years too much, and we strongly urge that President Trump and his administration and his supporters end these attacks.”

Kaye and Lanza released the statement through the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the U.S. dropped out of earlier this year.