President Trump’s attacks on the media may trigger violence against journalists, according to two UN experts.
David Kaye and Edison Lanza, experts on freedom of expression for the UN human rights council and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights respectively, issued a statement Thursday calling Trump’s attacks “strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts.”
They suggested that such language increases “the risk of journalists being targeted with violence” and the attacks “run counter to the country’s obligations to respect press freedom and international human rights law.”
The experts went on to condemn Trump and his administration’s attempts to undermine critical reporting, by using terms such as ‘enemy of the people’ in reference to the media or by blocking journalists from asking questions. In so doing, they wrote, Trump “suggests nefarious motivations or animus.” Yet Trump’s accusations appear to be unfounded, as he “has failed to show even once that specific reporting has been driven by any untoward motivations.”
Instead, Kaye and Lanza urged the administration to “promote the role of a vibrant press” and stop denigrating the media and “pursuing legal cases against journalists in an effort to identify confidential sources.”
The statement followed a culmination of attacks on the media by Trump in the last week. In a Sunday tweetstorm, Trump went after the media, calling reporters “unpatriotic.” He later went on to share videos on Twitter of Trump rally attendees shouting “CNN sucks!” at journalists covering the Florida event. And last week, the administration was criticized for barring a CNN reporter from covering a White House event. During Thursday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to say that the media is not the enemy.