It’s a been a whirlwind four years for reporters covering Donald Trump’s presidency, a time marked by a never-ending campaign of attacks on the press.
The relationship between the media and the Trump White House was contentious. It stirred up mistrust and led to a disturbing rise of physical and verbal threats against journalists. Those threats were aided and egged on by Trump’s constant prodding to his supporters of “fake news” and jabs at the press as “the enemy of the people.”
“I am not the only reporter who covered this White House, who has had death threats,” said Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday. “We can’t be at a place in this country where political reporters, White House correspondents, need bodyguards to cover political campaign events.”
Like many other reporters, Acosta had his fair share of spars with the president over the years. One squabble at a news conference in 2018 resulted in Trump and his aides revoking Acosta’s White House press pass, which was later reinstated after a court ruled in CNN’s favor in legal dispute. It was an unprecedented act by a president that many say put First Amendment protections for journalists at risk.
But the impact of Trump’s repeated attacks don’t end there. It’s also sunk into the hearts and minds of a number of Americans, who now doubt trusted new sources or outright condemn fact-checked media and reporters as propaganda machines against the president. Droves of misinformation and conspiracy theories have less Americans caring about what’s proven to be true and false.
The outcome of Trump’s animosity toward the news media over the years has been jarring. It’s chipped away at trust in the press and simultaneously sowed seeds of skepticism that have taken shape in the form of election fraud claims, voting falsehoods and vaccine hesitancy.
“It is just a pervasive hostility and anti-democratic hostility towards the process that I just hope we never receive the likes of ever again,” said Acosta. “It is just so damaging and destructive for our democracy”.