President Donald Trump is facing criticism for directly calling The New York Times “a true enemy of the people” after it published a report that accused the president of trying to put a loyalist in charge of the investigation into his affairs.
“The Press has never been more dishonest than it is today,” Trump wrote in his morning Twitter rant. “Stories are written that have absolutely no basis in fact. The writers don’t even call asking for verification. They are totally out of control. Sadly, I kept many of them in business. In six years, they all go BUST!”
Trump then called out the Times and said the report on him was “false”:
The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
Trump’s been criticized for calling out media as “enemy of the people” in the past, but the direct targeting of a publication produced a response from the people behind the Times.
New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger released a statement condemning Trump’s Twitter attack.
In it, Sulzberger wrote that all presidents have been criticized by the press but that they upheld the importance of a free press’s role in democracy.
“But in demonizing the free press as the enemy, simply for performing its role of asking difficult questions and bringing uncomfortable information to light, President Trump is retreating from a distinctly American principle,” Sulzberger stated.
The phrase “enemy of the people” is not just false, it’s dangerous. It has an ugly history of being wielded by dictators and tyrants who sought to control public information. And it is particularly reckless coming from someone whose office gives him broad powers to fight or imprison the nation’s enemies. As I have repeatedly told President Trump face to face, there are mounting signs that this incendiary rhetoric is encouraging threats and violence against journalists at home and abroad.
The newspaper publisher concluded his statement by saying the Times would continue its reporting mission.
In addition, the New York Times communications Twitter account responded to the president directly and said that the paper “stand by their investigation” and cited where it got its information.
We stand by our investigation, which was rigorously reported and based on a review of confidential White House documents as well as interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to President Trump. https://t.co/yG4mDpHpnU
— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) February 20, 2019
Trump has called out “fake news” or media outlets for being the enemy of the people over 20 times on his Twitter account. He faced an increase in criticism for the phrase after two attacks on media in the last year — the deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, and the bomb threat to CNN headquarters in New York.
Despite the criticism, he has continued to tout the phrase on his social media.
Fake News is truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2019
Thank you to Brit. This is a very big deal in Europe. Fake News is the Enemy of the People! https://t.co/WX0o8gaiMC
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2018
Check out tweets from last two days. I refer to Fake News Media when mentioning Enemy of the People – but dishonest reporters use only the word “Media.” The people of our Great Country are angry and disillusioned at receiving so much Fake News. They get it, and fully understand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2018
“Anonymous Sources are really starting to BURN the media.” @FoxNews The fact is that many anonymous sources don’t even exist. They are fiction made up by the Fake News reporters. Look at the lie that Fake CNN is now in. They got caught red handed! Enemy of the People!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
Trump often excused the phrase by claiming he was reserving it for “fake news” and not all of the media or a specific outlet. But Wednesday’s tweet marks a shift and the first time Trump directly labeled an entire media organization as an enemy.