Trump’s praise for Congressman who bodyslammed journalist tone-deaf, appalling

President Donald Trump’s anti-press harangues have always been disturbing, especially after the shooting at the Capitol-Gazette in Annapolis, Md.
But last week, his comments truly went beyond the pale, especially in light of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul earlier this month.
At a campaign rally in Billings, Mont. Thursday, Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte for body-slamming Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian in 2017, as he was running for Congress.
Gianforte attacked Jacobs, enraged over what he thought was “biased” coverage. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, performed 40 hours of community service, went through 20 hours of anger management counseling and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Trump’s praise for Gianforte comes as his administration drags its feet in responding to the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically of the government in Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate to fill out paperwork for his upcoming wedding, and has not been seen since. Reports from the Turkish government — which has its own issues with press freedom — said the journalist was tortured, killed and dismembered by an assassination team. The Saudi government only recently acknowledged Khashoggi’s death, claiming he got into a brawl with the 15 men.
The Trump administration is not applying skepticism to such an implausible story. Combined with his recent comments about Gianforte, it shows a disdain for journalists, particularly those who speak truth to power.
Instead of standing up for basic human rights and the rights of a free press, qualities that once made America great in the eyes of the world, Trump appears to be giving a pass to those who use extreme means to silence critics.
I join with SPJ National President J. Alex Tarquinio in calling for Kashoggi’s killers to be brought to justice, with the United States using all of its influence to call for an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s death.
And I also think it is time that Trump stop the anti-press rhetoric, and apologize for his remarks. After all, Gianforte apologized for his attack.

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