In the video above, in which Donald Trump calls an ABC News reporters a “sleaze” and then invites a veteran of the Marine Corps to come to the podium and insult the “liberal media,” is the latest and most definitive signal that he intends to conduct an all-out assault on any and all media outlets who provide him with even the hint of negative coverage. As The Hill reports, the event quickly devolved into a tense exchange of insults:
Some of the reporters accused the businessman of being thin-skinned and said he is seeking to avoid the scrutiny that comes with running for president.
Trump responded in kind, calling a male CNN anchor “a beauty,” referring to an ABC News reporter in the audience as a “sleaze” and vowing to take his war against the press to the White House if he’s elected.
“I’m going to continue to attack the press,” Trump said as the event drew to a close. “I find the press to be dishonest. I find the political press to be extremely dishonest.”
In February, Trump announced his intention to “open up” libel laws, which would be the single most effective way to erode or at least curb the freedom of the press in America by making news outlets vulnerable to lawsuits. Still, for a candidate who has benefited from extensive media coverage more than any in American history, it was hard to know whether this was just grandstanding, and whether deep down he understood the symbiotic nature of his relationship with the press.
That no longer seems to be in question—as Trump’s pressers become more and more antagonistic, it’s clear that he’s exactly the kind of candidate who would take measures to limit media freedom. And he knows he’s on solid footing—if you interviewed 3,000 Trump supporters, it’s hard to imagine even one having a positive outlook on the press. But this is an issue that transcends party lines, and it’s not like moderates or liberals are out there gushing about how much they love the media. Progressives, especially, have spent a large part of the primary campaign railing against corporate influence in the media, which inevitably ignores leftist movements in favor of the political center.
All in all, this is not a great time to be a journalist in America. The job market is worse than ever before, and even if you “make” it, you’re likely to be despised by a majority of the public.