November 15, 2018

US – RSF condemns President Trump’s treatment of black female journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the treatment of black women journalists by President Donald Trump, who last week made insulting comments toward reporters April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, CNN’s Abby Phillip, and PBS Newshour’s Yamiche Alcindor during televised press briefings.

“President Trump has been particularly hostile toward the press as of late, and his recent verbal attacks against several black women journalists are concerning given the unique threats women and people of color in the journalism industry face,” said Margaux Ewen, Director of RSF’s North America bureau. “These women are not ‘stupid,’ or ‘nasty’; They are hard-working professionals of the highest caliber who bring incredibly valuable skills and perspectives to America’s journalism landscape. RSF calls on the president to cease his harassment of the press, and to treat female journalists of color with the dignity and respect they are owed.”



While President Trump's relationship with the press is often antagonistic, his denigration of multiple black women journalists in the span of two days last week was widely denounced. President Trump accused Alcindor of asking a “racist question” during a November 7 press conference when she pointed out that his professed “nationalism” has been interpreted by some as an embrace of white nationalism. The president yelled at Ryan to “sit down” several times during the same event, and at a November 9 press briefing referred to her as “nasty,” and a “loser.” And instead of answering Phillip’s question that day about the newly-appointed attorney general, he instead responded: "What a stupid question. What a stupid question that is. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions."



RSF echoes statements by the International Women’s Media Foundation and the National Association of Black Journalists in condemning President Trump’s treatment of these journalists. Women and people of color in the journalism industry are often the target of unique threats, making black women journalists particularly vulnerable to harassment. In August, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Ryan hired a bodyguard in the wake of growing threats to her safety. Ryan said covering the Trump administration has effectively “put a target on my head… I’ve had death threats. I've had some people wait for me outside the White House.”



RSF is monitoring a growing number of reported threats against journalists in the United States in connection to their reporting. The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.


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