ABC White House reporter Jonathan Karl closed a show on Sunday with a declaration: Reporters will keep doing their jobs despite President Donald Trump’s declaration that news outlets were “the enemy of the American people.”
Filling in for George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” the ABC reporter said the president’s criticism of the press was surprising because of his love of media attention during his business career.
Karl also said “there’s nothing new about a president of the United States criticizing or even vilifying the press,” citing Thomas Jefferson’s claim that “nothing can now be believed that is now seen in a newspaper” and Theodore Roosevelt’s dismissive characterization of investigative journalists as “muckrakers.”
“The Donald Trump I knew as a young reporter was nothing if not media friendly. And for most of the past Republican primary, he was the most accessible major candidate. No one else was even close. At Thursday’s press conference, we saw flashes of that. Seventeen reporters called on, many that he knew would ask tough questions,” Karl said.
But he said over the course of his brief tenure as president, Trump has “taken criticism of the media to another level.”
“Now the president has declared the press the enemy of the American people. I have reported in countries not only complain about a critical press, but also try to shut it down, throwing reporters in prison or worse. I’ve seen my colleagues risk their lives, and with increasing frequency lose their lives in the pursuit of the truth,” Karl said.
“We are not about to stop doing our jobs because yet another president is unhappy with what he reads or hears or sees on TV news. There’s a reason the founders put freedom of the press in the very first amendment to the constitution. As long as American democracy remains healthy, there will be reporters willing to pursue the truth, even if that means incurring the wrath of the most powerful person in the world.
Karl was far from the only journalist on the Sunday political talk shows to voice concern about Trump’s statement.
On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace confronted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus about the comments, saying that the president “crosses a line” when he called the media the enemy of the American people because it reports stories he doesn’t like.
“Reince, here’s the problem. I don’t have any problem with you complaining about an individual story. We sometimes get it wrong, you guys sometimes get it wrong. I don’t have any problem with you complaining about bias,” Wallace said.
“But the president went a lot further than that. He said that the ‘fake media,’ not certain stories, the ‘fake media,’ are an enemy to the country. We don’t have a state-run media in this country. That’s what they have in dictatorships,” Wallace continued.