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Trump vs. media: First week of new administration highlights bitter divide
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, waves to members of the media as they walk to the Oval Office Wednesday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Trump vs. media: First week of new administration highlights bitter divide

It's no secret that President Donald Trump's relationship with the media has gotten off to a rocky start, but is Trump to blame for all the contention? Or are members of the media the ones at fault? TheBlaze spoke with people from both sides of that argument and, as you might expect, each side provided a very different answer.

Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists agrees with the former.

"I think that we're pretty concerned about what we're seeing in these initial days in terms of hostility toward the press," Radsch said, responding to a question about how the administration called out one reporter last weekend for falsely tweeting that the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.

The reporter, Time's Zeke Miller, later apologized for the error, saying he didn't initially see the artwork because it had been blocked by a door or a Secret Service agent. White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted, "apology accepted," but even then, Trump and Spicer separately took the opportunity to get in a shot at the media.

Spicer, during his first briefing as press secretary, called the action “irresponsible and reckless" before going on to blast the media's coverage of the inauguration crowd size. Spicer then then walked out of the briefing room without taking any questions.

Trump, who was visiting CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, also took aim at Miller while speaking in front of a memorial wall to honor fallen intelligence officers.

“Now big story, the retraction was like, where? Was it a line or do they even bother putting it in?" Trump said.

This is just one of the latest examples of a rocky relationship between the Washington, D.C., press corps and the new Trump administration.

Radsch compared these recent run-ins with what goes on in countries like Egypt, Turkey and even Russia.

"We see that in environments where leaders, those with moral authority, vilify the press that this has negative repercussions on the press and can lead to attacks," Radsch told TheBlaze, adding that such attempts to demonize reporters can have a "chilling effect."

"Under international law, there's a right to freely express yourself whether you're a president, prime minister, public figure or a private individual. So the fact that they [Trump's White House] want to engage with the media and if they want to present their own information or perspective, I think that's fine," Radsch said.

But, she added, it becomes "problematic" when those in power start making personal attacks against journalists or bash the media more generally.

"This level of vitriol and vilification is something we are not accustomed to seeing in the United States," Radsch claimed.

But Dan Gainor, vice president of business and media at the conservative Media Research Center, said the press has had this coming for a while.

"This administration-versus-the-press is not new," Gainor told TheBlaze Thursday during a phone interview, citing then-presidential candidate Barack Obama kicking at least three reporters off his campaign plane because the newspapers they worked for endorsed Obama's 2008 Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

"But the difference here," Gainor added, "is the vast majority of media outlets see themselves as liberal crusaders, and they don't like any of the things Trump is doing." He then referred to a CNN headline published Thursday, which read: "Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do."

"In any other administration that would be a good thing," Gainor pointed out. "President Obama doing exactly what he promised is you reaffirming the voters. But in the media's mindset, Trump doing exactly what he said he'd do is awful."

At some point, Gainor continued, the coverage becomes "so ridiculous" that for an administration to respond to it normally "doesn't do any good."

"The media act like everything Trump said during the campaign, he's just being mean, as if they'd never done anything before," Gainor said.

Gainor pointed to NBC reporter Katy Tur getting called out by Trump Nov. 2 while covering him on the campaign trail.

Pointing to his "massive crowds," Trump singled out Tur, saying, "Katy, you’re not reporting it, Katy. But there’s something happening, Katy.”

At least two of Tur's journalist colleagues later came to her defense on Twitter, using the hashtag "ImWithTur," a play on the popular line "I'm with her," which was often repeated at rallies in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In response to Trump's comment about Tur's reporting, NBC's Andrea Mitchell took to Twitter, asking Trump to "stop beating up on the media."

CNBC's John Harwood also weighed in, praising Tur's journalistic abilities.

This was just one example Gainor provided while making the case that journalists don't necessarily deserve better treatment.

"What's Trump supposed to do? Sit back and take it like [former President] George W. Bush did?" Gainor asked.

The answer to that question, according to Gainor, is absolutely not.

"Trump is a street fighter. If they're going to fight dirty, he's going to fight right back at them," Gainor said.

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