Duncan: Trump’s wrong in calling media enemy of the people

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., who endorsed Donald Trump before almost all other Republicans in Congress and agrees with him on most issues, says the new is dead wrong on one issue, reports Michael Collins.

“I disagree with him completely on saying the press is the enemy of the people,” Duncan said. “I think it’s very important to the future of our country to have a free press and freedom of the press and to have a strong, active media. I think just about everybody in the United States – or most people in the United States – believes in freedom of the press.”

Duncan’s views on the press and its role as a government watchdog are shaped not only by his three decades in public life, but also as a former member of the Fourth Estate. Duncan has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and, before he entered politics, worked as a reporter and editor for the now-defunct Knoxville Journal. While attending law school at George Washington University, he taught journalism for a year at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., just outside of Washington.

…Duncan said he has been bothered by Trump’s constant maligning of the press… A week ago, Trump escalated his war with the press when he wrote on Twitter that the media “is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!” He repeated the claim in front of a national gathering of conservative Republicans on Friday.

…Some Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to call out the president for his media bashing. Appearing last week on CNN, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Brentwood Republican, was asked four times but refused to say whether she agrees with Trump that the press is the enemy.

Duncan, on the other, says Trump’s attacks on the press have gone too far.

“I can’t defend that – and I’m not going to defend it,” he said.

Rep. Steve Cohen, a Memphis Democrat, has called on the House Judiciary Committee to examine the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine freedom of the press.

Cohen said he has been alarmed by Trump’s efforts to stifle coverage by calling only on conservative news outlets at press conferences and through “a concerted campaign of intimidation and de-legitimization.”

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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