Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, is releasing a memoir, based on his time in the White House. Bits and pieces being revealed in advance of the book’s release are raising a number of concerns, but perhaps one of the most serious is the attack on a free press. The president has attacked the media throughout his term, at press conferences and in tweets, but Bolton reveals that Trump really opposes the right of the people to openly question and criticize his leadership.
The Washington Post released an advance review of the book, describing Trump’s attempts to get world leaders to help him win re-election, and an environment of infighting and competition.
One frightening theme in Bolton’s report, though, is Trump’s hatred for the media, and his desire to suppress the first amendment right to a free and protected press.
He describes Trump calling for journalists to be jailed and forced to reveal their sources, even executed. In a 2019 meeting, Trump is said to have called reporters ‘scumbags.’
The president has openly attacked the media since before his election. Earlier this month, he tweeted to say that the press was lying about the use of tear gas for his photo op after protests. Forbes reported this week that the government had finally admitted this was true — not a lie at all.
With similar claims of lies and false reporting, Trump has called the free press “the enemy of the people,” often directing rage at specific news organizations that have reported critically on him and his actions.
In a similar attack on free speech (where it’s critical of him), Trump has used government action to try to prevent the release of Bolton’s book. The Washington Post article linked above notes that Bolton says he was forbidden to use Trump’s exact words in certain instances, due to them not passing the government’s pre-release review. However, even what did pass that review still has the president in an uproar. Thursday morning, he tweeted to insist the contents are all lies.
Notably, the administration sued to prevent the book’s publication, claiming, according to CBS, that the information in it is classified.
It’s not inconceivable that the same book could contain both false and classified information, though it’s very clear that the president’s focus, at least publicly, is on stories that cast him in a negative light, not on any possible security concerns.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com