It’s not necessarily news that Trump and company have the media—namely media members who criticize them—in their crosshairs. A poll in fall 2018 revealed that most young Americans believe Trump encourages violence against journalists. The president blamed the “Mainstream Media” and their “Fake News” when CNN’s headquarters were targeted with a pipe bomb last year. He even cheered on Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) after he body-slammed a CNN reporter. As Adam Peck of ThinkProgress writes, “For years, Trump and those in his employ have harassed, threatened and in some cases even physically assaulted journalists. It’s a practice that long predates his presidency or political aspirations.”
What is news is the recently revealed effort from the Republican National Committee and the super PAC America First (which supports Trump) to target journalists with personalized attack campaigns, as reported by the Atlantic.
These harassment campaigns will pertain to the recent memo from Attorney General William Barr on the Mueller report, which Trump supporters have seen as completely exonerating the president from any charges of collusion or obstruction of justice. Needless to say, it’s not quite the slam-dunk Republicans are framing it as (after all, this is a summary crafted by a man appointed by the investigation’s subject and the obstruction of justice question is far from answered), but they’re going to milk it for all it’s worth. Part of that includes launching attacks against any reporters who refuse to depict the memo as a victory for Team Trump.
“Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” an anonymous source “familiar with internal discussions” told The Atlantic.
“Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go,” they added.
Okay, the speculation on Trump’s supposed coordination with Russia got out of hand on MSNBC and other shows looking to snag viewers. We all know that. MSNBC’s plummeting ratings reflect that. It’s utterly ripe with irony, though, that the same people who cry “free speech!” every time someone calls them out for bigoted hate-speech are ready to censure journalists who are taking Barr’s memo with a grain of salt. But hey, it’s 2019. Anything is possible.