The RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force urged journalists across the country not to be intimidated by a new presidential tweet Sunday that some believe endorses violence against the news media.
At 9:21 a.m. on July 2, President Trump tweeted a video that had been circulating on some internet outlets during the previous few days, in which he – during an appearance on a professional wrestling telecast many years ago – is seen physically “attacking” a man. In the tweeted video, a CNN logo was superimposed onto the face of the man being “attacked” by Mr. Trump.
CNN issued a statement about the tweet, in which it accused the president of endorsing violence against reporters:
CNN statement responding to the president: "We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his." pic.twitter.com/Gn1YRA2DRG— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 2, 2017
“Now, more than ever, responsible journalists in the U.S. should keep seeking the truth and reporting facts,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Incoming Executive Director, who spearheads the task force. “We, as reporters, have a Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to be the public’s conduit to factual information about what the White House and other government institutions are doing on their behalf. This is not the time for journalists to be intimidated,” Shelley added.
“At the same time, RTDNA encourages all reporters to be mindful of their safety while engaged in fulfilling their obligations to serve the public. Whenever high-profile public officials and public figures express open contempt toward responsible journalism, it enables, and almost gives permission to, their supporters to act out aggressively against the news media,” said Shelley.
The Voice of the First Amendment Task Force has documented a number of cases during the past several months in which reporters across the country have been harassed, threatened, obstructed, arrested, and assaulted merely for trying to do their jobs.
RTDNA formed the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives. People wishing to support RTDNA’s efforts may reach out to the task force by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.