Trump-era hostility toward press persists
Press freedom in the United States continued to suffer during President Donald Trump’s third year in office. Arrests, physical assaults, public denigration and the harassment of journalists continued in 2019, though the numbers of journalists arrested and assaulted were slightly lower than the year prior. Much of that ire has come from President Trump and his associates in the federal government, who have demonstrated the United States is no longer a champion of press freedom at home or abroad. This dangerous anti-press sentiment has trickled down to local governments, institutions and the American public. In March 2019, a leaked document revealed the US government was using a secret database tracking journalists, activists and others who border authorities believed should be stopped for questioning when crossing certain checkpoints along the US-Mexico border. A couple months later, the Justice Department charged Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange with 17 counts of the WWI-era Espionage Act. If he is convicted, this would set a dangerous precedent for journalists who publish classified US government information of public interest moving forward. Under President Trump, the White House has strategically replaced traditional forms of press access with those that limit the ability of journalists to ask questions of the administration. The last daily, televised White House press briefing led by a press secretary took place in March 2019, and since then the federal government has made multiple attempts to deny specific journalists and news outlets access to other opportunities for press engagement.
48 in 2019
25.69 in 2019