Trump's History Of Lashing Out At Journalists

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It's no secret that the president is no particular friend of the press. The list of times Donald Trump got mad at journalists for doing their job could end up as a significant chunk of someone's PhD dissertation some day, and it probably should. After all, this is becoming a pretty important part of POTUS 45's presidency thus far.

Trump is far from the first president to have a testy relationship with the press, but that's exactly how things should be. A press that goes easy on the people in power is useless to the functioning of democracy and is also a common feature of authoritarian governments around the world. With other presidents, though, you could at least see that they were trying to maintain a veneer of civility. Trump's style of personal attack, on the other hand, is a horse of a different color, and it's very troubling. He lies at an unprecedented rate and doesn't like to be pressed or challenged on any of those lies. He's unwilling to own up to the negative consequences of his campaign or his presidency. And when reporters do their jobs and bring up the lies of the negative consequences, he doesn't hesitate to tear into them.

There are certainly many more of these examples, but here are seven of the most egregious examples of Donald Trump lashing out at the press.


The Jim Acosta Blow-Up

In Donald Trump's first and only press conference as the President-elect, he refused to let CNN's Jim Acosta ask a question, repeatedly telling the reporter not to be rude and then pointing at him and saying "You're fake news." This was in response to CNN reporting on the dossier of largely unverified information about Trump's history with Russia. CNN had only reported that Trump had been briefed on the dossier; in fact it was Buzzfeed that published the information in it, and Trump was quick to attack them too.

The attack on Acosta was notable for many reasons — how it happened at a press conference, for example, and because Trump would not even take a question from CNN after repeatedly denouncing them. Given that this was his first press conference after the election, it did not start things off well.


Going After Maureen Dowd

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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd told a story about Trump that he didn't like, and he took to Twitter to call her "wacky" and a "neurotic dope". Specifically, she claimed that Trump had told her that "the violence [at his rallies] added a frisson of excitement," — a statement backed up by the way Trump often responded to episodes of violence at his rallies.

He didn't seem to like the way she put it, though, so he used the same word for her as he had for multiple other women who criticized him; MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski and former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz have also received the "neurotic" label from the president.


Calling An ABC Reporter "Sleazy"

The media attacks were really a part of his entire campaign. At this press conference in May, his frustrations boiled over, and he ended up calling ABC News' Tony Llamas "sleazy". Llamas had committed the terrible crime of asking Trump about a lie he had told — Trump claimed that he had raised $6 million for veterans at a single event, but this had been proven to be untrue.

Trump was evidently frustrated that the press had "made [him] look bad", when really he could have avoided the issue by donating the money to the veterans' organizations when he promised to instead of waiting until the press pushed him on it.


The Megyn Kelly Affair

Trump does not have a history of treating women well, and Megyn Kelly, then of Fox News, was really the first person to bring this up to Trump on the campaign trail. Instead of taking he question seriously, Trump said that he didn't have time for political correctness and then went on CNN and said that there was "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever", before also bashing her as a journalist.

This comment sparked a feverish response, and it all comes back to the fact Trump clearly didn't like getting pressed on something so important and so clearly indefensible.


Hounding Katy Tur

Trump called out NBC's Katy Tur by name at a rally in Miami, subjecting her to a chorus of jeers and booing from the entire room. According to Tur, it all began when she interviewed him on MSNBC in July of 2015, and he didn't like how things went. Instead of dropping the issue, he repeatedly called her out for one thing after another — yet another show of his habit of holding grudges.


Dismissing The BBC

While giving a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump faced a question about certain beliefs of his that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said were "alarming" to many people in the U.K. Before responding, Trump turned to May and said "This is your choice of a question? There goes that relationship."

Although the incident provoked laughter from many of the people in attendance, this showed both Trump's hostility to the media and his somewhat alarming approach to world politics — even if he was only kidding.


Brushing Off A Question About Anti-Semitism

Ami Magazine reporter Jake Turx asked Trump about the rising levels of anti-Semitism in America — a trend that has been heavily documented — at the Thursday press conference. Before posing the question, Turx stressed that he did not believe Trump himself to be anti-Semitic. Without allowing Turx to finish the question about the recent uptick in threats, Trump cut Turx off, said that the question wasn't fair, and then made the claim that he was "the least anti-Semitic person you have ever met in your entire life" — among other things.

The whole time, however, Trump refused to simply condemn hate crimes against Jews, which would have been a fairly decent answer to the question. He did manage to paint himself as the victim of indecent attacks by the media, though, while he was calling Turx's question "insulting."

All of these and all of the other instances of Trump acting similarly are important reasons why this is not a normal time and not a normal presidency. A free press is essential for the maintenance of a liberal democracy, and its members should not have to withstand such personal attacks in order to do their jobs. We can only hope that their stamina and resolve will withstand the president's sharp tongue and thin skin for as long as he holds his office. So far, we only have reason to keep trusting them.