Trump’s Target Practice Against Media

In Media On

Every time you think President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric can’t get worse, he finds a way of surprising you and not surprising you all at the same time.

That he will attack journalists on a regular basis should be expected at this point, and it is. The surprising part comes when he manages to outdo himself. After all, he couldn’t possibly top “enemy of the people,” could he?

Yet there he was in Phoenix on Tuesday, telling a crowd of thousands of ardent supporters that journalists were “sick people” who he believes “don’t like our country,” and are “trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

The moment matters. Mr. Trump’s latest attack on the media came at a time of heightened racial tension stoked by a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., and continuing now in the national debate over removing statues that commemorate Confederate figures from the Civil War. Mr. Trump’s speech in Phoenix reprised a question spawned by his raucous rallies during the presidential campaign: How long before someone is seriously hurt, or worse?

. . .

Some of the most disturbing moves against the press this year stem from a new brand of anti-media vigilantism. And this has been a particularly bad week for that, too.

Allow me to direct you to Martin Shkreli, whom a Brooklyn jury convicted this month of security fraud related to a stock scheme involving a pharmaceutical company he co-founded, Retrophin. But you probably know Mr. Shkreli from his company Turing Pharmaceuticals’s outrageous increasing of prices on a drug that helps people with compromised immune systems fight parasitic infections.

On Wednesday, Business Insider reported that Mr. Shkreli was developing websites devoted to reporters at CNBC, Vice, Vanity Fair and several other organizations, filling them with politically tinged attacks. He said it was justified because, in his view, the subjects of his animosity didn’t qualify as journalists.

Further cementing this week as a dark one for American journalism, a reporter at ProPublica, Julia Angwin, said on Twitter that an attack on her email account had rendered it inoperable. Similar attacks hit the reporters who worked with her on an article published over the weekend that detailed how major technology companies were facilitating the financing of groups identified as extremists by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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