Strike Force: A New Low in Trump’s War on the Press Corps

Why shouldn’t the Fourth Estate intensify its scrutiny of this administration, bearing down on its abuses and scandals?

Without question, this is the mentality of a man who would, if he could get away with it, eliminate all US media entities with the exception of the Fox News Channel and Sinclair Broadcasting:

Just hours after The Washington Post published a bombshell story about a previously undisclosed May 2016 meeting between Roger Stone and a Russian national who promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton, President Trump encouraged Post employees to go on strike.

“Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough,” Trump tweeted. “I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?”

Trump’s tweet, coming as it does on the heels of the Post’s report, is the latest evidence that his repeated attacks on Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos are motivated by the publication’s coverage of Trump — not any sort of principled concern about the state of the postal service or well-being of Post employees.

The Post reported that Stone — a longtime Trump adviser — met in May 2016 with a man who called himself Henry Greenberg. Greenberg initially contacted Trump campaign communications official Michael Caputo and offered dirt about Hillary, and Caputo responded by arranging the meeting with Stone.

According to text messages Stone sent to Caputo after the meeting that have been obtained by the Post, Greenberg — who has at times used the name Henry Oknyansky and claimed in a 2015 court filing to be an FBI informant — asked for $2 million in exchange for his information.

Asked by Caputo if Greenberg offered “Anything interesting at all?”, Stone replied, “No.”

Stone failed to disclose his meeting with Greenberg during his sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017. During an interview on Sunday morning on C-SPAN, Stone said he simply forgot about the the episode until the Post’s report.

In light of Trump’s newest odious assault on the press, one cannot blame the likes of Playboy reporter Brian Karem for having such an adversarial view of this administration. Frankly, it’s only human and natural for reporters to respond in kind when an administration has made it clear that it views the press as beneath contempt. (Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press seemed especially disinclined to put up with White House advisor Kellyanne Conway’s nonsense this morning.)

Why shouldn’t the Fourth Estate intensify its scrutiny of this administration, bearing down on its abuses and scandals? Why shouldn’t Karem be a model for journalism in the Trump era? Who’s going to complain about the press becoming more hostile to this administration–besides this administration’s lickspittles, that is?

If Trump had his way, we’d never know the full extent of the role Russia played in putting him into the White House, or the relentless corruption of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, or the endless series of scandals that define this administration. Increased scrutiny of this administration on the part of the Fourth Estate would not be a form of “liberal bias.” It would be a form of self-defense.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.