The media remains incensed over President Trump saying that they are the enemy of the American people. And they are desperate to use any event negatively impacting journalists as evidence of the “dangerous” climate that has been created by Trump.
The primary anecdotal evidence has been that Trump supporters say not nice things to CNN reporters and other media members at Trump rallies. But now the killing of Saudi “journalist” Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, apparently by a Saudi hit squad at the Saudi embassy, is also offered as evidence of the open season on journalists that Trump has created.
CNN reported that “Trump’s demonization of the media can have deadly consequences” referring to the Khashoggi killing, while the Huffington Post wrote “Donald Trump Is Complicit In Jamal Khashoggi’s Likely Death.” This is part of the reason for the outsized coverage of this killing. These and others have tried to leverage it into a hit on Trump and his language.
But actual facts do not support this narrative, at least not half way through Trump’s first term. During his first two years, the average number of journalists killed globally is less than the average number killed annually since 1992, and it is considerably less than the average number during the Obama years.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has been around for 30 years. It is in business to defend journalists and advocate for press freedoms, and tracks killings of journalists globally — killings in some way connected to their work as journalists, not someone killed in a robbery who happened to be a journalist. CPJ is officially non-partisan, but most certainly not a conservative group.
According to statistics compiled daily by CPJ, the average number of journalists killed annually since 1992 is 51 — 1,321 in total in that time period. The average number of journalists killed annually during President Obama’s eight years in office was 63.
But during Trump’s first year as president, in 2017, 44 journalists were killed. And 40 have been killed so far this year, which looks to end in about the same range as last year.
Now there is the very real sense in which this is a bogus connection. A whole lot of world events can contribute to journalists being killed — such as civil wars and unstable nations — which are largely outside the control of an American president. But it is also one of the few actual data points to look to in order to see if Trump really is creating an open season on journalists.
According to these numbers, he is not.
So it’s worth noting these statistics for the very reason that the media is making such a huge deal out of Trump calling the media the enemy of the American people. In the sense that this crop of dishonest and biased media are actively opposing the duly elected president and Congress chosen by the American people, that is somewhat accurate.
Trump and Congress are the conduits of the will of the American people via the ballot box, and the media is acting at the very least like their political enemy. No one is saying (outside of far left, Antifa-like circles) that the free press is the enemy of the people.
But because the media continues to hyper-focus on this — it is about them, after all — they give enormous coverage to the Khashoggi killing because it is sensational, puts Trump in a tough spot with an ally and, as they claim, is reflective of what our allies think they can get away with because of Trump’s anti-media rhetoric.
But what the CPJ numbers show quite clearly is that, statistically speaking, journalists globally are doing better under Trump. At least, they’re being killed in smaller numbers.
One can’t help but think that if the CPJ’s numbers showed a spike in journalist killings during the Trump years, instead of a slowdown, that the media would have trotted out the number to support their case. This again goes to the point that media bias is not just about what is reported, but also what is not reported.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.
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