The president of the White House Correspondence Association Olivier Knox toasted to the first amendment in his opening speech at the correspondence dinner Saturday night. He then spoke about the threat he feels from Donald Trump:
"I still separate my career into the period before February 2017 and what came after. That’s because February 2017 is when the President of the United States called us the ‘enemies of the people.’ A few days later I was driving my then-11-year-old son somewhere, probably soccer practice, when he burst into tears and asked me, ‘Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?’ At the end of a family trip to Mexico he mused if the president tried to keep me out of the country, at ‘least Uncle Josh is a good lawyer and will get you home.’"
It is troubling to hear a president refer to the media as "Enemies of the people", but when Trump is referring to corporate mainstream news outlets like CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times he is not far from the truth. CNN and MSNBC have both been shoving the Trump Russia collusion story down Americans throats so much that it’s hard to blame an average working American who believes Trump is "Putin’s Puppet". So, while these media outlets push a false narrative, ignoring or promoting Trump’s hawkish foreign policy that in itself should prove he’s not working on the behalf of Putin they become the "enemy of the people".
Knox spoke about Austin Tice an American journalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012 and went on to hold a moment of silence for persecuted and jailed journalists around the world. In a spectacular display of irony Knox listed journalists jailed around the world and did not mention Julian Assange or defend persecuted whistle blowers like Chelsea Manning.
The problem with Trump not attending the White House Correspondents Dinner is not that he is threatening free press, it is that the corporate media can use his nonattendance as a way to fool the American people into believing they actually hold the powerful accountable.
Watch the full speech here
Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.