Trump calls for unprecedented boycott of AT&T, CNN
During his long-awaited state visit to the United Kingdom, President Donald Trump lamented CNN coverage in London and called for a boycott of the news channel’s parent company AT&T. In a flurry of tweets on June 3 that RSF criticized as an unprecedented abuse of power intended to silence critics, President Trump speculated that CNN would be “forced to make changes” if users boycotted the telecommunications company. The call unsettled journalists and government officials alike. “It’s one thing to complain about the press. Using state power to censor them is another. In fact, it’s unconstitutional,” tweeted California Congressman Adam Schiff on June 4.
Vox and CNN reporters experience harassment, threats
CNN anchor Don Lemon and Vox host Carlos Maza say they have become the targets of increasingly severe racist and homophobic harassment. During a conference June 6, Lemon told the audience that after becoming a target for President Trump he has received a barrage of aggression and threats from private citizens. This includes the verbal attacks with racist and homophobic slurs he has received while reporting, hundreds of hate calls a day from supporters of President Trump, and the copious amounts of junk mail sent to his house by people who have dug up his address. Vox’s Maza, who on May 30 tweeted a compilation of homophobic and racist insults directed at him by a right wing YouTube commentator, says since the tweet the harassment he regularly receives from the channel’s fans has escalated into persistent death threats. Maza tweeted the video diary of his harassment to pressure YouTube to moderate cyberbullying of LGBTQ creators, but the video-sharing website has yet to solidify its stance. Initially, it declined to take any action against the YouTuber targeting Maza, then beefed up its anti-hate speech policy and revoked the commentator’s ability to make money off of advertisements. In a June 5 tweet, freelance journalist Talia Lavin also reported receiving a death threat that Lavin says may be connected to her “journalistic work and public persona on Twitter.”
White House to hit record three month mark on press briefing drought
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders continues to break records as she hits the June 11 three-month mark on an unusually long absence from the press briefing room. Sanders, who has not held an official press briefing since March 11 when she broke her previous 43-day briefing dry spell, instead answers reporters’ questions during brief five to six-minute long encounters with the press on the White House’s north driveway. In contrast, during the first two years of the Trump presidency, official briefings occurred between five and 10 times per month. Press briefings under the Trump administration have dwindled in general; the Pentagon recently reached the one year anniversary of its last televised briefing last week and the State Department, which once held daily briefings, now hosts them on a weekly or bi-monthly basis.
The United States ranks 48th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
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