Monday 16 September 2019

One in three in US believes media is the enemy: Trump

Fanbase: Members of the crowd at the Trump rally in Florida on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Fanbase: Members of the crowd at the Trump rally in Florida on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Rachael Alexander in Washington

Donald Trump has claimed that a third of Americans see the media as "the enemy of the people".

He provided no evidence for the figure as he rallied his supporters in Florida on Wednesday night.

The US president has repeatedly returned to the "enemy of the people" phrase since launching his bid for the White House, insisting that journalists are biased against him.

However, his inflammatory anti-media rhetoric has come under increased scrutiny since explosive packages were sent to the television network CNN, a regular target of his verbal attacks, last week.

In Florida, Mr Trump opened the rally by telling supporters that coverage of a protest over his visit to Pittsburgh the previous day had been "fake and make-believe".

Thousands of people demonstrated in the Pennsylvania city as Mr Trump and his wife Melania offered condolences at the Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 Jewish worshippers were shot dead on Saturday.

The protesters chanted: "Words matter", accusing Mr Trump of having emboldened extremists.

The president, who travelled to Pittsburgh despite appeals from some Jewish groups for him to stay away, told the rally: "After this day of unity and togetherness, I… turned on the news and watched as the far-left media once again used tragedy to sow anger and division.

"Sadly, they took a small group of protesters far away from where we were. We could not have been treated better, the first lady and myself."

Mr Trump claimed he had "forcefully condemned hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice in all of its ugly forms".

"But the media doesn't want you to hear your story," he added. "It's not my story, it's your story.

"And that's why 33pc of the people in this country believe the fake news is in fact - and I hate to say this - in fact the enemy of the people."

His comments were met with cheers from supporters at the rally in Estero.

Cesar Sayoc, a supporter of Mr Trump, was arrested last week on suspicion of mailing 14 bombs to CNN and other regular targets of the president's attacks, including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

After the arrest, Mr Trump blamed the media for the attempted attacks, tweeting: "A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News."

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, has said there is "a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media".

Mr Trump has also defended his tendency to spread misleading statements and falsehoods.

"Well, I try. I do try . . . and I always want to tell the truth," he said in an interview with ABC News. "When I can, I tell the truth. And sometimes it turns out to be where something happens that's different or there's a change, but I always like to be truthful."

The 'Washington Post' Fact Checker reported last month that Mr Trump had made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims in the first 601 days of his presidency - an average of 8.3 claims a day - and that the pace was picking up.

Since then, as he has ratcheted up his rhetoric in advance of the mid-term elections, he has continued to invent "facts".

He said that a middle-class tax cut would be passed by November 1, even though Congress wasn't in session and had no plans to reconvene before the elections.

He has repeatedly asserted that Republicans are more committed than Democrats to protecting people with pre-existing health conditions, despite numerous past actions contrary to that claim.

And he has asserted that the US is the only country to grant automatic citizenship to children born on its territory, although more than 30 other nations have a similar 'birthright citizenship' policies.

In his interview with ABC's White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, Mr Trump also took issue with the media's estimates of the sizes of caravans of migrants slowly making their way towards the US.

"You have caravans coming up that look a lot larger than it's reported," he said. "I'm pretty good at estimating crowd size. They look a lot bigger than people would think."

Mr Trump has often overstated the size of the crowds he draws, starting with the first day of his presidency.

His spokesman, on his orders, falsely claimed that the crowd at his 2017 inauguration was "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe".

Irish Independent

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