News

January 14, 2019

US — #WeeklyAddress: January 7 – 13: President Trump repeatedly attacks media on Twitter

Jim WATSON / AFP
Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of January 7 – 13:

President Trump repeatedly attacks media on Twitter

President Donald Trump tweeted multiple attacks on the media throughout the week, at one point calling journalists “crazed lunatics” and referring to The Washington Post as a “lobbyist newspaper.” The tweets began on Monday morning before 8 a.m., when President Trump wrote that the “Fake News” have become “crazed lunatics,” and accusing reporters of writing “total fiction.” He referred to the media as the United States’ “real Opposition Party” and the “Enemy of the People!” While President Trump didn’t reference any reporting in his tweets, they were published at the start of the government shutdown’s third week and a day before President Trump’s Oval Office address regarding the contentious border wall. In the days that followed this address, the president continued to refer to the press as the “Opposition Party” and accused news organizations NBC and MSNBC of intentionally reporting stories “opposite of the facts.”

 

 

Some federal agencies close FOIA submissions during shutdown

Some federal agencies have disabled their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submission websites due to the government shutdown, which is going on its fourth week. Less than a week after the Interior Department stopped accepting public requests for information, the US Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General also disabled submissions on its FOIA webpage. Other agencies, like the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, are still accepting FOIA requests but will not process them until the government reopens. This is not the first time during a government shutdown that federal agencies have stopped processing or accepting FOIA submissions; during the 2013 government shutdown, the Interior Department, the Agriculture Department and the Transportation Security Administration closed their FOIA submission websites, and agencies including the National Security Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency stopped processing submissions. These websites are frequently used by reporters who seek to obtain information from federal agencies that may not already be accessible to the public.

 

 

CNN’s Jim Acosta called a “smartass” by Kellyanne Conway

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta was the subject of attacks from the White House and a conservative media figure this week. When Acosta asked President Trump’s Counselor Kellyanne Conway during a January 8 press gaggle whether the president would tell the truth during his Oval Office address that evening, Conway responded: "Yes, Jim. Can you promise that you will?” before calling Acosta “such a smartass.” Three days later conservative social media provocateur Arthur Schwartz tweeted a video of a man with CNN’s logo pasted on his head getting run over by a golf cart, with the caption, “Spotted: Jim Acosta playing golf earlier today.” The tweet, which has been shared more than 6,000 times and liked by more than 20,000 accounts, was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr. Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst retweeted it and responded: “Joking about running over @Acosta with a golf cart isn't funny. Threats against journalists aren't funny. Sad to see so many people retweeting this trash.” RSF’s year-end roundup of abuses against journalists found the United States as one of the deadliest countries for journalists in the world, following an attack at the Capital Gazette, a local newspaper in Maryland.

 

The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

  

For the latest updates, follow RSF on twitter @RSF_en.