Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse criticized President Donald Trump for his tweets about cable news anchors, saying the President was trying to “weaponize distrust” of the media.
“There’s an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that and trying to weaponize distrust,” Sasse told CNN Anchor Jake Tapper on the network’s Sunday show, State of the Union. “The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment. […] you don’t have religion without assembly. You don’t have speech without press.”
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Trump came under criticism on both sides of the aisle last Thursday, when he tweeted about Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, including an assertion that the latter had a face lift that was bleeding, which she subsequently denied. On July 1, Trump continued to tweet about Brzezinski and Scarborough, as well as CNN, which he called “fake news” and “garbage journalism.”
Sasse opined that although journalism would continue to change as digital technology advanced, ushering in less newsworthy content, the free press is a crucial part of democracy that needs to be protected.
“We need to come together as a people and re-teach our kids what the First Amendment is about,” Sasse told Tapper. “And it’s not helpful to call the press the enemy of the American people.”
At approximately the same time Sasse was giving his interview Sunday morning, the President was sending another tweet, this time of a video featuring himself punching a physical representation of CNN in the face.