UPDATE with additional reactions President Donald Trump’s disparagement of CNN International yesterday might not have been just his usual anti-media disdain, says CNN’s Brian Stelter. The Reliable Sources host, noting that Trump’s Saturday tweet targeting (very specifically) CNN International arrived on the exact day that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill allowing Russia to register international media outlets as foreign agents.
Stelter said Trump’s tweet, whether by design or coincidence, “reads like an invitation to undemocratic regimes around the world to harass CNN journalists with the blessing of the U.S. president. Is this presidential? No. Is this petty? Definitely.” (Watch a clip below.)
Trump’s tweet praised Fox News as “MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!”
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour responded to the president’s tweet by posting a photograph of her late camerawoman Margaret Moth, “who took a bullet in the face covering the facts and truth in Bosnia.”
General Michael Hayden tweeted, “If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.” (See those tweets below.)
CNN’s communications team responded to Trump by tweeting, “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S. to the world. That’s yours. Our job is to report the news.”
The swipe at CNN International came as Putin signed the bill widely interpreted as retaliation for the United States calling for Russia Today to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent.
Within a few hours of the bill’s signing, Stelter noted, Trump singled out CNN International, possibly as a way to signal to Putin to “crack down” on the news organization.
David Zurawik, the Baltimore Sun media critic and frequent Reliable Sources contributor, praised CNN International correspondents who risk their lives reporting from “battlefields.”
“This guy wants to mock (CNN International), this guy who never served in the military, never got near a battlefield wants to mock CNN,” Zurawik said of Trump. “He doesn’t understand what he’s doing when he tells autocratic fascist regimes to crack down on CNN International. He does not have a sense, it’s like a 12-year-old boy talking crap in the schoolyard, and its really a disgrace to us.”
Here’s a look at Zurawik in action: