It's fair to say that President Donald Trump and the media don't have the best of relationships, but a certain characterization of the press has left some in the public with a raised eyebrow. Over the weekend, a pro-Trump pastor asked that the president be "protected" from jungle journalism, but it's not entirely clear what the pastor meant by it.
This past Saturday night at President Trump's rally in Ohio, the pastor giving the invocation called for protection for Trump and his family against "lies and mistruths."
"Tonight, I pray that You will protect our President and his family with a shield of faith, Lord, that shield of faith against the fiery darts of the wicked one, Lord, against that jungle journalism (that) extorts the truth and distorts honesty and integrity every single day, gets in his face with lies and mistruths and innuendos," said Gary Click, a pastor and member of the Ohio GOP's State Central Committee, according to CNN.
Though Trump's connection with the press has always been tenuous at best — he harps on news outlets as "fake news" following critical reports — Click's invocation was made following recent tweets by the president that depict journalists as the enemy.
"They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!" he wrote on Twitter on Aug. 2.
The "jungle journalism" reference could have been alluding to Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle, in which Sinclair exposed the revolting conditions of Chicago’s meatpacking industry. The book featured vivid descriptions of the conditions endured by workers and livestock as well as the resulting contaminated food. Sinclair's journalism stirred up so much public outrage at the time that President Theodore Roosevelt signed two bills into law that helped regulate food safety. But The Jungle was a piece of journalism that largely resulted in safer conditions for both workers and consumers at large, so it's unclear why "jungle journalism," if it's indeed named for the famous muckraker, would be "wicked."
Some on Twitter were sure to draw the connection.
Others were just plain confused by Click's term.
The pastor's words reveal the deep divide between those who believe any critical report of the president is fabricated and those who believe Trump deliberately maligns the press to undermine its credibility. Lately, the hostility seems to have escalated to alarming levels: On Friday, CNN anchors Don Lemon and Brian Stelter revealed that they had been on the receiving end of a death threat made during a live C-SPAN program about President Trump and his supporters' animosity toward the press. Stelter played the threat on-air Friday.
“Good morning, it all started when Trump got elected,” the caller, who identified himself as "Don" from Pennsylvania, told C-SPAN host Greta Wodele Brawner. “Brian Stelter and Don Lemon from CNN called Trump supporters all ‘racists.’ They don't even know us. They don’t even know these Americans out here and they're calling us racists because we voted for Trump? Come on. Give me a break. They started the war. I see them, I’m going to shoot them. Bye.”
Stelter has denied that he ever labeled all Trump supporters as "racists" and said he is not sure where the caller could have gotten the idea.