Back in January, reporter April Ryan said she received death threats after asking Donald Trump if he was racist — and now, more than seven months later, she told The Hill that she is still under attack. During a Thursday appearance on Hill.TV's "Rising," Ryan told Krystal Ball and Jamal Simmons that journalists have a "target on our heads" under Trump, especially when they ask questions the president and his administration don't like.
"For the last 21 years that I've been doing this I've asked the same kinds of questions, literally, of Bill Clinton, of George W. Bush, and of Barack Obama, and now this president," Ryan said on "Rising." "The only question I never asked those presidents that I asked this president was 'Mr. President, are you a racist?'"
Ryan, a White House contributor for American Urban Radio Networks, posed that question to Trump a day after the president reportedly condemned immigration from "sh*thole countries." Trump, however, ignored the question, and declined to respond to her follow-up questions as well. But that question, as well as other questions Ryan has asked of the Trump administration, have prompted intense backlash against her and even "real death threats, to the point where we have to call the FBI."
"It's putting a target on our heads because we are asking questions maybe that they don't like," Ryan told Ball and Simmons. "When they don't like it [questions], when presidents don't like it, yeah, there's a little retaliation but never to go into this realm of uncharted territory, that actually puts our lives in harm’s way, and I say that because it's real."
Many of the threats and attacks she receives are from the general public, Ryan added. Ryan, who is also a CNN contributor, told The Hollywood Reporter that she recently hired a bodyguard to protect her at her personal expense. She argued that the White House should be paying for her protection, but noted nonetheless that she "has a team" ensuring her safety.
Since Trump assumed the presidency, The Washington Post remarked that Ryan has become well-known for asking administration officials blunt questions that have often gone viral. In April, she asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if Trump had ever "thought about stepping down." And back in the fall of 2017, she asked Sanders if the president believed that "slavery was wrong," to which Sanders responded that it was "disgusting and absurd" for Ryan to suggest otherwise.
Ryan is not the only journalist who has faced attacks from the Trump administration, or from its supporters. Last month, CNN's Jim Acosta was heckled at a Trump rally in Florida, and attendees surrounded him with chants of "CNN sucks" and "you're a liar." And when ESPN's Jemele Hill described Trump as a white supremacist on Twitter last year, Trump blamed her for tanking ESPN's ratings, and Sanders suggested that her comment was a "fireable offense."
Ryan is also not the only person worried about the target journalists seem to have on their backs under Trump. In fact, the United Nations expressed concern earlier this month that Trump's increasingly negative rhetoric — and his condemnations of the news media as the "enemy of the American people" — could result in an upsurge in violence against journalists.