NYT columnist Bret Stephens warns of attacks on media: ‘Blood on the president’s hands’
Conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens warned Friday against President Trump’s hostility toward the news media, saying verbal attacks targeting the media could lead to actual violence against journalists.
Stephens in his column pointed to a recent anonymous person who had called his office and left a threatening message as evidence that the president’s rhetoric was having darker effects.
“I don’t carry an AR but once we start shooting you f—ers you aren’t going to pop off like you do now,” Stephens recalled the person saying, apparently responding to a column he wrote defending ABC for firing Roseanne Barr.
The columnist went on to to cite the June 28 shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md., as proof that news organizations are already a target for violence. Five people died when a gunman with a grudge against the paper opened fire in the newsroom.
An attack in Trump’s name, Stephens argued, could be next.
“[T]he message I got in May was the third time I’ve been expressly or implicitly threatened with violence by someone whose views clearly align with Donald Trump’s,” Stephens wrote.
“Donald Trump’s more sophisticated defenders have long since mastered the art of pretending that the only thing that matters with his presidency is what it does, not what he says. But not all of the president’s defenders are quite as sophisticated. Some of them didn’t get the memo about taking Trump seriously but not literally. A few hear the phrase ‘enemy of the people’ and are prepared to take the words to their logical conclusion,” he continued.
“Is my caller one of them? I can’t say. But what should be clear is this: We are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the president’s hands.”
Tensions between the president and the news media reached new heights this week, with a CNN reporter cursed and booed at a rally on Tuesday night.
Trump has frequently criticized the mainstream media, dubbing reporters and sometimes whole organizations “fake news” over negative coverage of his administration.
“Whatever happened to fair press? Whatever happened to honest reporting?” the president asked during a rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday night.
Trump went on in that appearance to refer to the media as “horrible, horrendous people” and “disgusting.”
The White House was also criticized last month after a CNN reporter was barred from a press event for shouting questions at the president earlier in the day.