SAG-AFTRA, which represents thousands of TV journalists, is taking issue with President Donald Trump’s latest tirade against the free press. “SAG-AFTRA, journalists and non-journalists alike, supports a free and unencumbered press and stands with any journalist who might find his or her ability to report on our government challenged or compromised.”
The union’s statement, which doesn’t mention POTUS by name, comes after he tangled with reporters Wednesday during his post-election news conference. During a heated exchange with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, in which a White House staffer tried to wrest the microphone from the reporter’s hands, Trump accused him of being a “terrible person” and an “enemy of the people.” Acosta later had his White House access suspended.
Here is the union’s full statement:
“SAG-AFTRA believes first and foremost that citizens in a democracy need the truth,” the union said. “Furthermore, SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists, rather than being the ‘enemy of the people,’ have an obligation to seek out the truth and to report it vigorously, to monitor and question those in power, pointing out wrongdoing when they find it, noting when asserted facts are not supported by evidence, and reporting inconsistencies in the positions of public figures.
“The important work of journalists should never be taken for granted. As a union whose membership includes broadcast and online journalists, SAG-AFTRA champions the rights of a free press, whose primary role is to provide citizens with the information they need to effectively govern a democracy. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees these rights, which establishes that the press shall be free from government interference in the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.
“As working professionals, members of the news media have an obligation to verify the accuracy of what they report, with loyalty only to their readers, listeners and viewers and not to any political party, affiliation or ideology.
“As a proud labor union representing 160,000 broadcasters, actors and entertainers SAG-AFTRA stands with all of its members in ensuring that the basic rights of a free and independent press continue to be upheld.”
CNN, which is not signatory to the union’s contract, called Trump’s rant against its reporter “un-American.” “The President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far,” the cable news outlet said. “They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Accosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”