Comments come just after press freedom group warns president’s attacks against media are “reminiscent of an authoritarian government”
In an interview Friday with a Christian radio show, President Donald Trump backed his chief strategist Steve Bannon in calling the media “the opposition party.”
“I think the media is the opposition party in many ways,” the president said on “The Brody File,” a program on the Christian Radio Network. “I’m not talking about everybody, but a big portion of the media, the dishonesty, total deceit, and deception. It makes them certainly partially the opposition party, absolutely.”
“I say they treat me so unfairly it’s hard to believe that I won,” Trump told host David Brody. “But the fortunate thing about me is I have a big voice. I have a voice that people understand. And you see it now.”
Trump’s comments show support for a statement made by Bannon on Wednesday, when the former executive chair of Breitbart News told the New York Times that “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”
“I want you to quote this,” Bannon told the Times. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
Bannon was one of several Breitbart staffers to join Trump’s administration directly from the rightwing media outlet.
Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) cautioned just this week that the president’s attacks against the media are “reminiscent of an authoritarian government.”
“It is clear that Trump views the media as his number one enemy and is taking every single opportunity to try to weaken their credibility,” said Margaux Ewen, advocacy and communications director for RSF North America, in a press statement. “RSF reminds Trump’s administration that the press does not provide public relations for the president, but reports the truth in order to hold government officials accountable, despite statements to the contrary from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.”
Spicer was slammed last week for lying about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowds. White House senior official Kellyanne Conway attempted to defend his claims by calling them “alternative facts,” which likewise drew widespread criticism.
“The simultaneous attacks on the press for so called ‘inaccurate’ reporting and the use of what the administration calls ‘alternative facts’ to counter this reporting are reminiscent of an authoritarian government’s tactics,” said Delphine Halgand, director of RSF North America.
Trump has also blamed the media for inciting protests against his win in November.
The president’s comments signal that his administration will continue its war against the media, which Trump declared on his first full day in office. He described them as “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” during a meeting with the CIA and is reportedly considering banning journalists from the White House—a notable break with tradition that, as former cabinet secretary and renowned columnist Robert Reich put it, evokes hints of tyranny.