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Trump’s “Thuggish” Treatment of Press Mirrors Authoritarian Regimes, says PEN America

January 11, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

NEW YORK—President-elect Donald Trump's criticism of journalists at his press conference today demonstrates utter contempt for the role of the media in an open democracy, PEN America said today.

Despite touting his "great respect for freedom of the press, and all of that," Trump used his conference to retaliate against coverage he considers hostile. In apparent retaliation for CNN’s report yesterday that Mr. Trump had received an intelligence briefing on allegations that he may be vulnerable to Russian influence, Trump refused to take a question from CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, stating, “I’m not going to give you a question… You’re fake news.” Trump referred to BuzzFeed News, which yesterday published a document listing various allegations regarding Trump’s ties to Russia, as a “failing pile of garbage” and said he thinks “they’re going to suffer the consequences” for their reporting. He also repeated his frequent claim that much of the media is “dishonest.” After the press conference had concluded, CNN’s Acosta said that Trump’s incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer threatened to throw him out of the press conference if he pushed for another question.

"President-elect Trump's attempt to punish a major U.S. media outlet for what he considers unfavorable coverage and his denigration of members of the press is the kind of thuggish behavior exhibited by authoritarian regimes," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America. "The press must fight harder than ever to hold the Trump administration accountable, continue to engage in the kind of investigative journalism that is essential to an informed democratic debate, and refuse to be cowed by threats that are beneath the dignity of the presidency."

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at PEN.org.

CONTACT

Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: sedkins@pen.org, +1646.779.4830

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