Over 200 Journalists Pen Open Letter Pushing Back On Attacks On The Media

"Trump’s condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press," the letter reads.

More than 200 journalists have called out President Donald Trump's attacks against the media in an open letter, accusing him of inciting violence against the press.

The letter, signed mostly by retired or semi-retired journalists, was put together by former ABC News producer Meredith Wheeler, according to The Washington Post. It begins by criticizing the president for praising Montana congressman Greg Gianforte, who knocked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs down to the ground last year.

"On the heels of the recent brutal murder of a Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the letter states, "President Donald Trump chose to celebrate the assault of The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by an American congressman — an attack that occurred while the journalist was simply doing his job, posing questions to a politician."

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During a rally in Montana last week, Trump told a cheering crowd of Gianforte, "Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of guy." His comments came amidst a growing controversy around the death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who went missing during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Turkey in September. Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi operatives. Saudi Arabia denied any involvement at first, but later blamed the death on a rogue operation. This week, it was revealed the Saudi Arabia public prosecutor admitted the incident was "premeditated."

As Saudi continues to present varying accounts of Khasoggi's death, Trump has stopped short of condemning the government for their alleged involvement. On Wednesday, he also continued to bash the media at a Wisconsin rally, accusing it of "endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories." His statements came less than a day after the discovery an explosive device in CNN's mailroom and were a notable shift from his initial message on the manner, in which he called for the nation to come together to prove "that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America."

In their open letter, journalists pointed out Trump's ongoing criticisms of the media. "Trump's condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press — which includes labeling any reportage he doesn't like as 'fake news' and barring reporters and news organizations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events," it reads.

The letter also accuses Trump of "utterly failing" to uphold the Constitution, including the First Amendment, despite the oath he took during his inauguration. "[Trump is] actively working not simply to undermine the press, but to incite violence against it as well," it says.

Trump is currently facing a lawsuit from national writers organization PEN America, which alleges that some of the president's actions against news outlets, and particularly those critical of him, have been in violation of the First Amendment.

In the letter, the signatories also express their support for this action, concluding, "We denounce Donald Trump's behavior as unconstitutional, un-American and utterly unlawful and unseemly for the President of the United States and leader of the free world."

Cover image via JStone / Shutterstock.com.

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