President Donald Trump raged at the media Wednesday, saying in the Oval Office, “It’s frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever they want to write.” He added, “People should look into it.”
However, he also said that he wouldn’t limit what the press would write, and said that he merely thought they “should speak more honestly.”
President Trump: "It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it." pic.twitter.com/gT9FhI94tJ— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 11, 2017
The outburst follows several recent angry presidential tweets about “fake news” and days of coverage about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly calling the president a “moron” — something that really seems to have gotten under Trump’s skin.
The latest installment in this saga was a Wednesday morning NBC News report that Tillerson’s “moron” comment came after a meeting in which Trump said he wanted to expand the size of the US nuclear arsenal tenfold. Trump tweeted that the report was “pure fiction, made up to demean.”
Trump’s rhetoric naturally comes off as chilling to those concerned about freedom of the press. But it should be noted that he’s said things like this at several times throughout his campaign and presidency and it hasn’t been backed up with policy action — suggesting that, as far as presidential actions go, it falls more into the category of “ineffective venting”:
It is not "freedom of the press" when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2016
And indeed, this time around, Trump specifically said that he wouldn’t take any action to try to limit what the press should write about. So yes, this shows yet again that the president has a troubling lack of respect for the First Amendment — but it doesn’t seem to herald any change in policy.