Todd: If Another Country Treated Press the Way Trump Does, State Dept Would Say They’re ‘Inching Towards Authoritarianism’

On Monday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” host Chuck Todd argued that if another country’s leader treated the press the way President Trump does, the State Department would say that country is creeping towards authoritarianism.

Todd began by saying, “[O]n the eve of independence day, we’re going to focus on a specific kind of freedom this country affords us. It’s the freedom of the press. Usually, around here, we actually try to avoid this navel-gazing, but we do often focus on the creeping lack of trust in institutions in this country, and of course, one of those institutions is the media. By now, everyone has seen the president’s tweets and heard his campaign rhetoric. We knew he was hard on the press on the trail, and since he’s become president, the language has only gotten tougher.”

He added, “Folks, let’s call this what it is, the president and the White House is waging a war on the media, and their fight has only just begun. The Trump White House has already limited on-camera briefings and cut back on presidential press conferences, limiting the time he takes questions. In fact, President Trump has only held one solo press conference since he was sworn in, and last week, a reporter got in what could be considered a shouting match with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, after she attacked CNN for doing the right thing in their handling of a retracted story.”

Todd continued, “Then there are the tweets. President Trump has slammed the media on Twitter 60 times since January 20th. … Sometimes they’re a little lighter in humor. I get the sleepy eyes treatment. But, some of the words are pretty, pretty nasty. Folks, if these actions and this language was being used by a leader in a different country, our State Department, not just we in general, our State Department would be saying, hmm, that country is inching towards authoritarianism, because that’s usually the first sign, when you try to delegitimize a free press. But yes, to be fair, US presidents have always warred with the press. It’s in their interest to push their agenda, and there should be an adversarial relationship between the White House and the fourth estate. That’s fine. It’s our duty to find the truth, and that truth can sometimes hurt. And yes, sometimes the media does get things wrong, but this time feels different, and here’s why, while a lot of presidents have come to blows with the press, they’ve usually recognized the vital role. Sometimes reluctantly, but they do.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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