Donald Trump’s contempt for the First Amendment press freedoms was demonstrated once again today as the news of the exclusion of his least favorite cable news network —CNN — from the annual White House lunch hosted on the day of the president’s State of the Union address, according to a report at The Hill.
Traditionally, the annual private lunch is a setting for “off the record” previews of what the president will be discussing and emphasizing in his yearly nationwide speech on the condition of our nation.
With Trump still under a cloud of impeachment — although virtually certain to be acquitted, if not exonerated, after a trial with ground rules designed by Republicans to provide a foregone conclusion despite ample evidence to remove the president — his usual hostile attitude towards independent media outlets that aren’t firmly in his pocket has devolved even further, particularly with CNN in this case.
Last year, two of CNN’s top correspondents, Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, were invited to and attended the preliminary White House event, with Blitzer having attended the luncheon every year for the past two decades.
With Trump having refused to even appear on CNN for a sit-down interview since he assumed office and having once attempted to cancel the media credentials of its chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, the president’s antipathy towards the network is well known.
Trump regularly attacks CNN on his Twitter feed as “Fake News” whenever they report the truth about his actions that portray him in a negative light — as if there were a way to spin putting children in cages and extorting foreign governments for his own political benefit in a positive manner.
His actions to exclude the network from a private luncheon doesn’t violate any existing laws, but it does constitute one more step towards Trump’s authoritarian vision of total control of a compliant news media that will bow to his demands and transmit his messaging without question.
Having already granted media credentials to the sorts of right-wing media outlets that regularly post anti-Semitic comments, it’s clear that Trump wants to suppress the ability of a free press to report on his activities in an unbiased manner in violation of both the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment.
Add another charge to the next round of impeachment articles.
Original reporting by Joe Concha at The Hill.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.