CNN’s Brian Stelter: Trump is emulating autocrats who suppress a free press
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): As President Trump’s war with the media gets even more personal, the president is grappling with Senate Republicans who’ve missed a self-imposed deadline on health care. He’s preparing for a staredown this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But on Twitter he’s wrestling with — us. Look at this video from his Twitter account this morning. This is a WWE Wrestlemania video from years ago when Trump used to show up at WWE events. You can see that the CNN logo has been superimposed onto the other fighter’s face. Now this showed up on a Reddit message board days ago. Now it’s showing up on the president of the United States’ own Twitter feed. The early reactions in the last 90 minutes have ranged from “this is juvenile,” “ridiculous,” “idiotic,” “Oh wait no it’s just funny, he’s just having fun.” Or, “Wait, no, it’s actually scary, dangerous.”
STELTER: And look, this is day six of Trump’s anti-media tweetstorms. We’ve been covering this all week long. His offensive tweets about Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski took up days of news coverage, and those came after days of attacks against CNN and The New York Times and The Washington Post. Now his target on Sunday is CNN again. Who knows which outlet will be next. Who’s going to speak up? Are other media outlets going to speak up? I think they will today. We’re already seen solidarity from journalists on Twitter. What about GOP leaders? What about Republican leaders?
I think we should be clear about the Trump strategy here. The president’s strategy, let’s think about this, he’s trying to build up news outlets that promote him while trying to tear down outlets that dare to challenge him. He is promoting his friends in the media, talking with friendly interviewers who won’t ask him tough questions, while he’s demeaning voices who criticize him. Now don’t take my word for it. Take his. At a private fundraiser this week, Trump asked the donors if he should sue CNN. And then he called CNN staffers, quote, “horrible human beings.” And on Saturday he continued his campaign against the broader media.
STELTER: Is this president trying to impersonate [former Colombian President] Hugo Chavez?[Turkish President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan? Vladimir Putin? Because this is exactly the kind of language that leaders use when they are trying to undermine the press. Of course the American press is much more free than reporters in places like Russia, and Turkey, and Venezuela. And on this Independence Day weekend, that’s something we should all be celebrating. So where’s [House Speaker] Paul Ryan? Where’s [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell? Are GOP leaders going to speak up about these attacks against the media? Like I said, right now at CNN, earlier it was The Washington Post and The New York Times. It’s been other networks, it’s been other outlets. This president continues to demean the media. Are GOP leaders going to support him?