A Michigan man was arrested after calling CNN about 22 times last week calling them “fake news” and threatening to “gun down” the news network’s employees. During one of his calls, he said he had more guns and more power than the folks at CNN.
This is just the most recent threat to the free press in the last 12 months. In May, a reporter for The Guardian was body slammed by Greg Gianforte for asking a question about the republican health care bill.
Two days later, Texas Governor Greg Abbott threatened to shoot reporters. Not only are these incidents bad in and of themselves, this type of behavior could embolden others to carry out violent acts against the press.
It should come as no surprise that these threats are being made by Trump supporters who believe his oft-repeated mantra of “Fake News,” and it should come as no surprise that one of those supporters would attempt to carry out an attack on CNN, Trump’s favorite target.
But the free press in this country, including CNN, is not “Fake News,” nor are they “the enemy of the public” and carrying out assaults on journalists is not “making America Great Again.” Let’s call these threats what they really are. Terrorism. The man arrested in Michigan was a terrorist, plain and simple, who was threatening to take out the institution of the free press in this country.
According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary the definition of terrorism is as follows:
Terrorism: the act of terrorizing; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy.
What we are witnessing isn’t harassment, it isn’t a series of mistakes, and it isn’t a backlash against the press. We are witnessing politically motivated acts and threats of terrorism against journalists in an effort to weaken freedom of the press in this country.
This trend of violence and threatened violence against the press is worrisome and disturbing — not just for journalists — but for everyone whom the first amendment protects. The press, by the way, will continue to protect and exercise its first amendment rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution — a document Trump’s supporters claim to love — but that Trump himself attempts to undermine at every turn. No president is bigger than the Constitution. While the president may try to do everything in his power to weaken the first amendment, it isn’t going anywhere.