When Donald Trump first used the phrase “fake news,” it brought with it an attack against all journalism and news outlets. From the White House barring the New York Times from a White House briefing to colloquial accusations of biased articles, journalists and reporters had been assaulted in multiple aspects.
However, the most recent attack on journalism was not a tweet by Donald Trump. It wasn’t a stab at “liberal media.” It didn’t even involve the terminology “Fake news.” On May 24th, a journalist for The Guardian was physically assaulted by Greg Gianforte, a Republican congressional candidate in Montana.
According to Jacobs , after asking Gianforte about a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office on the Republican healthcare bill, he was body slammed to the ground. The Guardian released the audio of the debacle, and crashing is heard after Jacobs posed his question and before Gianforte yells “I am sick and tired of you guys.” Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna describes Gianforte grabbing both sides of Jacobs’s neck, slamming him to the ground, and punching him.
In response, Gianforte was charged with assault the day before the Montana election. On May 25th, he won that election.
The mere act of a reporter being body slammed for simply asking a question is horrendous enough. The fact that Gianforte still won the election highlights a dangerous truth. Not only did Montana elect a man who was charged with assault, they elected a man who showed blatant disrespect for the method at which we procure our news.
Without journalists, there would be no articles detailing budget plans or foreign policy debates. There would be no reports on criminal activity. There would be no revelations of scandalous or untrustworthy officials. Without people to report the news, we do not hear the news. Unfortunately, Gianforte’s actions are just one example of the attack on journalism.
In fact, according to the New York Times, on May 19th, a reporter for CQ Roll Call was stopped from asking Commissioner Michael O’Reilly a question about net neutrality when two security officers pinned him against a wall. While the officers did apologize, citing apprehension for a potential security threat, their apologies cannot erase the automatic, and incorrect, assumption that the reporter was harmful.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Trump’s administration is examining ways to alter current libel laws to “make it easier for Trump to sue news organizations that criticize him.” Although it is unlikely these laws will change due to the Supreme Court, this clearly exemplifies the danger news organizations are in.
The Trump administration has created a war against news reporting, and if the latter does not emerge as victor, Americans will no longer be educated on what goes on in our country. The attack on journalism is on a dangerous path, and if we don’t take action against the disrespect officials exhibit, we could be just a few steps away from a far more horrifying future for all reporters.