On Sunday, Fox News’ Chris Wallace warned the network’s viewers that president Trump’s latest swipe at the media had gone too far. Wallace said on Fox & Friends that the media is free to criticize presidents, and president can return the favor.
But when a U.S. president says about the country’s press that it has morphed in the American people’s enemy, that president has crossed an important line, Wallace said.
Trump had said that other U.S. presidents had a feud with the press including Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Wallace nuanced that statement. He quoted Jefferson who said that he would rather have a press without government than the other way around. Wallace thinks presidents have always had troubles with the press, but the latest president took things too far.
The Fox News anchor underlined that a democracy needs an independent press. So, a president should not vilify the media and describe it as an “enemy” of the people.
Over the weekend, Trump launched a fresh salvo of tweets at the country’s press for spreading fake news. In a widely-shared tweet, he claimed the press was no longer his enemy but the enemy of the entire country. Trump pointed the finger at several media outlets including CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and the New York Times.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
The president did not mention Fox news, but in a previous tweet, he said Fox & Friends was “great” to watch.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
We can take criticism, but to say we’re the enemy of the American people, it really crosses an important line,
Wallace fired back Sunday.
Anchor Pete Hegseth tried to defend Trump by saying that maybe he was attacking only those news outlets that tell their public that they’re unbiased. Hegseth underlined that Trump did not take aim at the independent press but at the biased press.
Wallace noted that Barack Obama criticized Fox News, but he never called it the enemy of the American people, as Trump has said about the New York Times and others.
Wallace also warned Fox news viewers who might share Trump’s views on this one that if they condone such behavior from the president they like, in the future, a president they don’t like might also call the free press the people’s enemy.
Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus defended the president. He said Trump was referring only to news stories that are dishonest. Wallace fired back at Priebus noting that Obama “whined” about Fox all the time but he never called it the enemy of the American people.
However, the Fox News anchor is not the only person who had previously stood by Trump to now disagree with him. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently said that he doesn’t see the media as the enemy. Sen. John McCain said on NBC that Trump’s attitude towards the media was “how dictators get started.”
The Arizona senator argued that when dictators want to consolidate their power they first go after the country’s press. Nevertheless, McCain added that he was not suggesting Trump was a wannabe dictator. Yet some lessons of history should be learned.
Image Source: Fox News