Author: Alicia Powe
NEW YORK CITY–Who needs facts when you have a mob of 150 devoted New York Times lovers fired up with anti-Trump hysteria?
“Impeach Trump!” protesters chanted.
“Can’t build a wall, hands too small!” some shrieked.
“People for a free press!” they cried.
WND was on the scene March 25 as anti-Trump protesters marched across midtown Manhattan – from Bryant Park to the New York Times building – decrying how President Trump treats “fair” and “objective” media outlets like New York Times, Washington Post and CNN.
Now that Trump has refused questions from a CNN reporter and boldly called the network “fake news,” after the network published false information about him, Democrats are crying foul and accusing Trump of being fascist.
Asked if they took issue with the way President Obama attacked the free press, many protesters told WND they hadn’t seen or heard Obama’s constant barrage of insults aimed at Fox News.
“I actually wasn’t aware” that President Obama constantly attacked Fox News, a protester explained.
In fact, Obama attacked Fox News numerous times, and the following are just a few examples:
- On June 16, 2009, Obama told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” that Fox News is devoted to “attacking my administration.”
- On Oct. 14, 2010, Obama told Rolling Stone Fox News has a point of view that “is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”
- On Jan. 27, 2013, Obama accused Fox News of making “compromise” a dirty word.”
- On Feb. 2, 2014, during an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Obama blamed Fox News for the Benghazi and IRS scandals, telling the O’Reilly: “They believe it because folks like you tell them that,” and “The kinds of things keep surfacing because folks like you promote them.”
- On Oct. 2, 2014, Obama blasted Fox News for its Obamacare criticism during a speech at Northwestern University.
- On Sept. 20, 2015, Obama accused Fox News of covering him unfairly during his speech at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner.
- On Nov. 5, 2015, Obama accused Fox News of “making me scary” to Americans.
- On Nov. 3, 2016, during an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Obama said: “Look, if I watched Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me either because you’ve got this screen – this funhouse mirror – through which people are receiving information.”
- And on Nov. 29, 2016, Obama went so far as to blame Fox News for Hillary Clinton’s election loss: “In this election, [they] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country …”
Pressed for his thoughts on former President Obama impugning the integrity of Fox News continuously and routinely over the course of his presidency, the protester conceded:
“I’ll admit that that might be the prism – like my own political prism that I look through – that might not have been on my radar. Ultimately, if there is any silver lining to the 2016 election, I would like to think that it not [only] put a spotlight on the right side of the spectrum, but the left side as well.”
Others, while underscoring why they believe a free press is vital to democracy, called for conservative news outlets to be censored or shut down completely.
“Once Sean Spicer has kicked out the New York Times and allowed agencies like Breitbart to take over the press room, I think that is infringing on our First Amendment rights,” said a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and clutching an issue of “The Gray Lady.”
“Real news gets fact-checked by editors,” he continued. “And a lot of these websites coming out that are really for alt-right wing, they do not get fact-checked.”
A 20-something man sported a scruffy beard and held a sign that read “Breitbart is fake news.” He claimed conservative media are dangerous.
“I personally think it is slowly starting to turn into state-sponsored propaganda by ultra conservative news outlets by places like Breitbart and, you know, the Blaze and Infowars, who are spreading really toxic stuff online and on TV and of things of that nature,” he told WND.
When asked what she thought of the Obama administration relentlessly mocking Fox News, a woman at the “rally for a free press” claimed Obama was justified in castigating the network because Fox News hosts and reporters aren’t “real journalists.”
“I think, with Fox News, it’s hard to call them real journalists,” said the woman wearing a pin that read “Facts Matter.”
“What President Obama was trying to delineate was that Fox News presents things in a manner that is false equivalency,” she continued. “When you talk about something like climate change, and you put a person who doesn’t believe in it against a person who is in support of it, when 99.9 percent of scientists support it – that’s false equivalency. And that’s what Fox News does. It’s ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, a Russian man shouted at the protesters, insisting their accusations against Trump – that the president is infringing on free speech – are absurd.
“I see signs saying that there is no freedom of press. There is freedom of press,” he told WND. “There is not one news outlet that has been shut down in the U.S.”
The man continued: What President Trump says “may be unpresidential, and you may disagree with it, but the president having an opinion does not mean that he is against freedom of the press.
“Where I am from, actual news outlets have been shut down. Newspapers have been shut down. I asked them to give me one example of where that’s happened in the U.S., and they say, ‘It will happen. It will happen.’ They are not arguing what has happened or what is happening. They have some hypothetical situation in their heads. It’s like a straw-man argument.”