President Trump’s latest broadside against CNN is drawing ire from journalists who say he misunderstands the very purpose of news coverage.
“This is another way that Trump recklessly hurts us in the world,” said Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
A day earlier, Trump took aim at a new target: the network’s international programming. His evening tweet tarred CNN International while also boosting Fox News, the president’s favored organization.
“Fox News is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly,” the president said. “The outside world does not see the truth from them!”
A few minutes later, CNN’s public relations department fired back: “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S to the world. That’s yours. Our job is to report the news.”
The tweet included the hashtag #FactsFirst, which is part of an ongoing marketing campaign by the network. It also amassed more than twice as many retweets and likes as the original critique.
CNN International is carried by satellite and cable distributors around the world. Most of its audience is outside the U.S.
Its mix of international newscasts includes Christiane Amanpour’s “Amanpour” and Richard Quest’s “Quest Means Business.” The network also simulcasts CNN’s domestic programming.
It’s not clear why Trump targeted CNN International while he was on vacation at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Earlier this month he said he watched CNN in the Philippines.
The president has frequently criticized CNN’s domestic programming, though the timing of his latest tweet raised some eyebrows. He sent it on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that would allow foreign media outlets in that country to be listed as “foreign agents.”
AFP White House correspondent Andrew Beatty asked: “Why is Trump doing this on the same day Putin cracks down on foreign media in Russia — including CNN International?”
Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian said Trump’s critique “should help Russia’s plans to muzzle certain media outlets along quite nicely.”
Some CNN journalists tweeted support for their own network.
“Whether it’s uncovering the slave trade in Libya, highlighting Puerto Rico’s struggle to recover from hurricanes, or giving a voice to Zimbabweans celebrating the fall of Mugabe, lately I’ve never been more proud to work for CNN International. Nothing fake about it,” said CNN International producer Tom Foster.
Anchor and correspondent Isha Sesay thanked the president for watching.
Matt Rivers, a Beijing-based correspondent for CNN, shared reporting by his colleagues, including Nima Elbagir’s work exposing the slave trade in Libya.
“We all have faults, no matter the profession,” Rivers wrote. “But if this is the work that the world sees CNN do, I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.”
Some of CNN’s rivals also spoke up.
“Thank you, CNN International for remaining a fair and free voice across the globe,” said MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
Columnist David Frum, a senior editor at The Atlantic and a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said that “Trump’s words are a direct attack on those international journalists’ freedom and even safety.”
Zurawik, the Baltimore Sun media critic, said on “Reliable Sources” that CNN International is “one of the great journalistic institutions in the world” thanks to the investment in global bureaus and reporters.
USA Today editor-in-chief Joanne Lipman said on “Reliable” that journalists abroad face “actual physical danger, unlike in the United States.”
Amanpour, who is CNN’s chief international correspondent, made that same point. She tweeted a photo of one of her late colleagues.
“If President Trump knew the facts, he would never have sent that tweet,” she wrote. “Here is my (late) camerawoman Margaret Moth, who took a bullet in the face covering the facts and truth in Bosnia.”