Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

The UN human rights chief has called President Donald Trump's attacks on press freedom "close to incitement of violence." (Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

As UN Rights Chief Warns Trump's Press Attacks 'Close to Incitement of Violence,' Newspapers Ready Coordinated Response

Trump's anti-media rhetoric could "set in motion a chain of events which could quite easily lead to harm being inflicted on journalists just going about their work."

Julia Conley

Amid international outcry over President Donald Trump's treatment of the news media, more than 100 newspapers are planning to publish editorials this Thursday pushing back against his repeated claims that journalists are "the enemy of the people" and defending their right to cover his administration and actions.

Denouncing Trump's "dirty war on the free press," the Boston Globe wrote to dozens of news outlets across the country calling on them to band together in defense of their work.

"We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date," wrote the Globe's editors.

Large newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and the Miami Herald have committed to writing editorials, as well as smaller local outlets.

"Publications, whatever their politics, could make a powerful statement by standing together in the common defense of their profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people."          —Boston Globe The campaign comes after repeated attacks by the president on the news media, beginning before he was elected president in November 2016. During his campaign Trump popularized the term "fake news," applying it frequently to CNN and other cable news outlets when their coverage of his campaign was deemed too negative.

Since his inauguration Trump has steadily ramped up his attacks, calling for NBC's license to be revoked after it published a report about his request to increase the nation's nuclear arsenal, and telling his supporters that American journalists are "really bad people." 

In recent weeks tensions between the White House and the press have grown even more pronounced, after Trump applauded the harassment of CNN journalist Jim Acosta at his rally in Tampa, Florida.

When asked about the incident, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed the Trump administration "fully support[s] a free press"—while also refusing to clearly state that the press is not "the enemy of the people " as Trump has said, and suggesting that journalists and their negative coverage of the administration's deeply unpopular policies are to blame for the president's anti-press rhetoric.

Acosta tweeted after the rally that he was concerned the president's escalating war on journalists would result in "someone getting hurt"—an anxiety shared by outgoing United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.

After Trump's inauguration, Zeid told the Guardian, "we began to see a campaign against the media...that could have potentially, and still can, set in motion a chain of events which could quite easily lead to harm being inflicted on journalists just going about their work and potentially some self-censorship. And in that context, it's getting very close to incitement to violence."

Zeid pointed out that Cambodian leader Hun Sen, among others, has demonstrated that Trump's anti-press rhetoric is catching on around the world. Hun Sen accused Cambodian media outlets of "violating Cambodia's laws" and evading taxes, and commended Trump's "Fake News Awards," which he gave out earlier this year. 

Leaders in Turkey, Myanmar, Venezuela, and the Philippines have also taken to deriding media outlets as "fake news," according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In the U.S., the Globe and other publications are hoping their coordinated editorials will amount to a strong stance against the president's anti-media campaign.

"Publications, whatever their politics, could make a powerful statement by standing together in the common defense of their profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people," wrote the Globe's editors. "Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Agency Condemns 'Homophobic and Racist' Monkeypox Reporting

"Stigma hurts everyone," says one ranking UNAIDS official. "Shared science and social solidarity help everyone."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo