WHCA blasts Trump’s praise of GOP rep who assaulted reporter

WHCA blasts Trump’s praise of GOP rep who assaulted reporter

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) issued a stern rebuke of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE’s praise Thursday night of Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who assaulted a reporter the night before his special election victory in 2017.

“All Americans should recoil from the president's praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job," WHCA President Olivier Knox wrote in a press release.

"This amounts to the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it. We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media,” the statement continued

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Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee. He went on to won Montana’s at-large congressional seat by 6 points.

“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of ... he’s my guy,” Trump said in Missoula, Mont. 

“We endorsed Greg really early, but I heard that he had body slammed a reporter. And he was way up … and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ But then I said, ‘Well wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,’ and it did. … He’s a great guy and a tough cookie,” he added. 

This is not the first time the WHCA has responded to Trump’s stance on the media.

Trump tweeted out harsh criticism of “The Fake News” in May in which he questioned if media credentials should be taken away.

“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?” he said. 

“Some may excuse the president’s inflammatory rhetoric about the media, but just because the president does not like news coverage does not make it fake. A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor. And a president preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment,” the WHCA responded. 

Trump’s acrimonious relationship with the press is well known, having accused mainstream media outlets peddling “fake news” and floated the idea of revoking the broadcast licenses of various networks.