July 30, 2018 - Updated on July 31, 2018

US — #WeeklyAddress July 23 - July 30: CNN reporter barred from White House press event

Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of July 23-July 30:

CNN reporter barred from White House press event

The White House barred CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from attending an open-press Rose Garden event on July 25 because she had asked “inappropriate” questions at an Oval Office photo-op earlier that day. To learn more about this incident, read RSF’s publication: ALERT – US: CNN reporter barred – "Denying a pool reporter access to an open-press event is denying the American people their right to know”



Trump tweets about off-the-record meeting with NYT publisher

After a July 20 off-the-record meeting between President Donald Trump and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, whereby Sulzberger denounced Trump’s rhetoric and attacks on journalism, the president tweeted his thoughts on the meeting. 

Though the meeting had been off-the-record, Sulzberger decided to respond to Trump’s tweet, which essentially broke the off-the-record agreement, with a statement of his own: “My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” Sulzberger said. “I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.” Sulzberger implored Trump to understand that referring to the media as “fake news” and especially “the enemy of the people” creates a dangerous culture for the media and puts journalists at risk both domestically and internationally.



Trump discounts credibility of “fake news” during Veterans Convention speech

In a July 24 speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, President Donald Trump warned the crowd, “Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” The president continued, “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” The comments were followed by a cascade of boos as President Trump motioned to the members of the media in the back of the venue. This rhetoric is in line with the president’s persistent verbal attacks against the American press, which he has repeatedly called “the enemy of the people.”



Trump denounces FCC plans to halt Sinclair-Tribune merger

President Trump denounced in a July 24 tweet the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to halt Sinclair’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

 If approved, the deal would provide Sinclair with 233 television stations and an unprecedented 72 percent household penetration in the United States, raising concerns about the diversity of news sources available to US citizens. Sinclair has a history of infringing on the independence of its news stations, including the implementation of a scripted segment in March that warned viewers against “fake news,” in language that echoed President Trump’s own anti-media rhetoric. This isn’t the first time President Trump has advocated for Sinclair’s programming over other media outlets’. In April of this year, the president tweeted, “The Fake News Networks … are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast.”



Documents may support Mexican journalist’s claims that he was targeted by ICE for criticism of US immigration policy

Documents obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation may support Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez-Soto and his attorney’s claims that Gutiérrez was targeted by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because he was critical of US immigration policy. Gutiérrez, who had been held with his 24-year-old son in a detention facility in El Paso, Texas, since December 7, 2017, was released on July 26. An internal ICE email sent February 1, 2017, to ICE agents in El Paso with the subject like “Non-detained Target List” included Gutiérrez’s name among the nearly 3,000 others on the list. Gutiérrez’s lawyer, Eduardo Beckett, told the Freedom of the Press Foundation there was no “legitimate law enforcement reason” for him to be included on an ICE target list. Two months prior to his arrest, Gutierrez accepted the National Press Club’s John Aubuchon award and gave a speech about the hypocrisy of the US government’s approach toward immigration. “Those who seek political asylum in countries like the US encounter the decisions of immigration authorities that barter away international laws,” he said.



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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