“for veteran U.S. journalist Bill Minor, Trump's rhetoric and the threat it poses to the media have a hauntingly familiar ring.”
Trump’s recent hostility towards the media is something quite unprecedented. U.S. journalist Bill Minor, says Trump's rhetoric and the threat it poses to the media have a hauntingly familiar ring as he recalls the time when journalists faced harassment from government officials, courts, police and angry crowds, most of whom had little interest in First Amendment protections. Such violence against the media occurred across the South, including at the University of Mississippi in 1962, where a French reporter was shot and killed during a riot over the school's integration. No one was ever brought to justice for this crime but journalists knew the perpetrators but were not able to speak up. Given such challenges to journalists during the civil rights era, Minor is deeply concerned by what he sees as "the rebirth of an old animosity against the press", particularly given its potentially far broader scope today. He said journalists cannot afford to be complacent about the potential for crowd violence, government surveillance, expanding libel lawsuits, and Trump's open disregard for traditional First Amendment protections. Trump has found effective ways to bypass or manipulate the conventional media, largely through social media and friendly outlets such as Breitbart News, but also by making provocative statements that inevitably generate traffic for mainstream outlets. During his campaign, The Washington Post's Callum Borchers reported on preliminary talks about a dedicated Trump cable television channel that would enable him to bypass the conventional media altogether. Though Trump made ample use of free media during the campaign, he has made it clear that he feels no need to accommodate or even tolerate conventional journalism. Minor recalled that even amid the notably hostile environment of 1960s Mississippi, independent reporters managed to have an impact. But Minor said he's concerned that animosity toward the U.S. media is now broader in scope than during the civil rights era, and that although the federal government then provided a check on the rogue behavior of state officials and a sometimes-hostile public, "it looks like, not anymore."