Republican lawmakers are rejecting President Donald Trump’s war on the media, as reported in a new Buzzfeed story.
“You’ve read a lot about the Republican war on what Donald Trump calls fake news,” Buzzfeed’s Alexis Levinson writes. “But here’s the thing: For many Republicans, it’s a phony war too.”
Buzzfeed interviewed a number of Republican’s on Capitol Hill about their thoughts on the American media, and found that GOP lawmakers don’t hesitate to tout the value of a free and open press.
“I love the media!” said pro-Trump Rep. Mark Meadows, who is the chairman of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus.
“I mean, y’all are real people, and I’m a real person and you’ve got a job to do and my thing is, provide you access, provide clarity, be direct, be honest, and trust in the integrity of the reporters that are covering you,” he said.
“And I’ve not been disappointed by 98% of the reporters that I get to work with,” Meadows added.
The Buzzfeed report notes that in a number of interviews, Republicans argued their “support for the press goes beyond mere collegiality to a recognition of the news media’s constitutional role”:
“The Founding Fathers had it about right: A free press is a good thing, not a bad thing. And politics is rough and tumble, dealing with the media’s a bit rough and tumble, but I don’t think it’s sinister in any way. Actually I think it’s helpful,” Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told BuzzFeed News.
“They ask questions, that’s their job; they report stories, that’s their job. Part of our job is to try and educate our constituents and the public and the media on at least what it looks like on this side,” he added.
“This is public work,” echoed Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei. “So the fact that you can come up and ask me about it like, well, it is public work. Therefore, you need to answer those questions.”
“I like you guys,” said Tom Rooney, a Republican congressman from Florida. “I’ve always, you know, sort of been of the mindset that you guys have jobs, you guys have families, you guys have got to put food on the table too.”
The report also makes reference the Greg Gianforte incident — in which the newly-elected congressman body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs the night before his election.
The president himself ran his 2016 campaign not just against his opponent Hillary Clinton, but also the media, which he often derided as “fake news” and incited his supporters against.
That war on the press has continued into Trump’s presidency — he called the media “fake news” in a tweet as recently as Sunday — with his voters and allies on Fox News holding the ranks, decrying the “mainstream media” as the enemy for any negative coverage of the administration.
[image via screengrab]