#NotTheEnemy: Twitter reacts to 'dangerous' Trump 'fake news' rhetoric

#NotTheEnemy: Twitter reacts to 'dangerous' Trump 'fake news' rhetoric
3 min read
18 Feb, 2017
Journalists, diplomats, academics, human rights advocates, and opponents of Trump have all taken to Twitter to decry the controversial president's latest slur against the media

In the face of an unprecedented Twitter attack by US President Donald Trump labelling a number of newspapers and broadcasters "the enemy of the American people", journalists and supporters have taken to Twitter to express their opposition to the president's latest outburst against the media.

Taking to his favourite social media platform late on Friday night, Trump took aim at media organisations including The New York Times, CBS, and NBC News labelling them "fake news" and "the enemy of the American People".

In response, posts on Twitter sought to remind the 45th president of the United States:

- Of the sacrifices that fellow professionals have made for their profession, in particular in endeavours to report on, expose and raise awareness of corruption, social injustices, and conflicts.

- And the tendency of totalitarian, and dictatorial states with questionable human rights, freedom of expression records, to label the press "enemies of the people".

Before his latest outburst, on Thursday night, Trump had brandished the term "fake news" seven times during a press conference at the White House - accusing the press of distorting facts, and failing to present a picture of his leadership to his taste. 

Later that night a peculiar survey titled the "Mainstream Media Accountability Survey" appeared on the Republican Party and Trump's campaign website asking a series of questions beginning:

"Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?"

The survey has been viewed as a process of formalising, and seeking legitimacy, for his attacks on the media.

However, as the The Chicago Tribune noted "it's unclear what, if anything, the data will be used for" though "participants are required to give their name, email address and Zip code".

Trump has increasingly clashed with the media since taking office and perhaps unsurprisingly his most recent attacks come at a time when figures within his administration have become embroiled in scandals that include allegations of "mild treason".

In addition to tweets in opposition to Trump's rhetoric posted by journalists and media professionals, academics, diplomats, and human rights advocates have also expressed criticism.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote:

While Tom Malinkowski, former US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, stated:

Trump's use of the term "enemy of the American people" to target established media organisations has been described as "radical" and even setting dangerous precedents by some commentators, and academics.  

In comment to Voice of America J.M. Berger, a fellow at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague, the author of several books and studies on extremist group's use of social media, said that such language could even be viewed by fringe Trump supporters as "ratifying violence". 

However, Trump appears set to continue ramping up his attacks against the media. An hour after Friday's controversial tweet the billionaire mogul once again took to Twitter accusing "FAKE MEDIA" of failing to report accurately on the efficacy of one of his press conferences.

He added that American shock-jock and fellow misogyny controversy attractor Rush Limbaugh had rather liked it.