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Mr President, Hands off the Press
Last uploaded : Friday 25th Aug 2017 at 12:35
Contributed by : Carol Gould



I have spent a year trying to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt in my broadcasts. I have praised him time and again for never traducing Bernie Sanders. He is right when he still says ’Bernie was stitched up by the DNC.’ The two men agree on the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as TPP, breaking up Big Pharma - the powerful pharmaceutical companies - and helping college students.

When I was a guest panellist on BBC ‘Any Questions?’ after the financial meltdown we were asked to provide a ‘warm-up comment’ for the live audience. By the time they got to me time had run out so I never had a chance to offer my comment on air but it would have been: ‘We now need billionaires to run countries.’ I would have mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson but I did not include Donald Trump on my list. In 2016, however, I was intrigued by his primary season triumphs and thought his presence in the White House might bring economic success.

I regret, however, that after the President’s terrifying condemnation of the American press in late August 2017 my patience has been tested to its limits. I am actually frightened for the safety of my esteemed colleagues. His words were right out of the playbook of dictators. Hala Gorani, Christiane Amanpour and others at CNN who are based in the UK are fortunate to be in a safe country that respects journalism. Theresa May is on the Right and loathed by many but I cannot imagine her calling a network correspondent 'Fake News!' to his face..

My great concern and the concern of organisations to protect journalists and broadcasters, correspondents and presenters is that at age 63 I have never, ever seen an American dignitary speak as Trump does about the media. I have never seen a head of state call a respected reporter (Jim Acosta)to his face 'fake news.' I used to attend Donald Rumsfeld's press conferences at the Pentagon and loved every minute, even when he wanted to chastise a reporter. He always did it with charm and respect. Next are we going to see American reporters arrested, tortured, 'disappeared' or even killed as they are - routinely - by Russian and other ruthless regimes?

I am a professional broadcaster and know how much research goes into every story and every live programme. My colleagues at the BBC, Sky News, ITN, LBC, CNN and Islam Channel work 24/7 seven days a week at the expense of family life to give us real news. It can take a year to comply with rules when one produces a documentary. When I am called to do a live broadcast I stop everything and look up or talk to every source I can get hold of. Before airtime I make every effort to go through my comments with the anchor and producer. Every year I attend memorial services to outstanding journalists like Marie Colvin, Terry Lloyd, Anna Politkovskaya and of course Sasha Litvinenko, who went into war zones or just dared to criticise their leaders - they died to bring us ‘Real News.’ The number of Russian and Turkish journalists killed or imprisoned is horrifying, and we are hearing in late 2017 of increased repression in the Philippines, Iran and Venezuela. The US press is the envy of the world - alongside it the very dynamic and often brilliant British press. Trump is now crossing a line that only dictators cross.

It has become apparent that President Trump wants to destroy the glorious American press. The Founding Fathers are revolving in their graves. Their writings and the legendary ‘don’t tread on me’ drawing helped launch the Revolutionary War that ended British control of the colonies. Edward R Murrow of CBS News brought down Joe McCarthy; the Washington Post exposed Watergate and the Boston Globe exposed mass paedophilia, the subject of which was an Oscar-winning film in 2016. Now that the President has declared war on the media -- which only repressive regimes do - I am wary of defending him and do fear for the legendary free press of my native country, the great USA.


Philadelphia native Carol Gould is a BBC, Sky News, LBC and Islam Channel broadcaster and author of ‘Spitfire Girls’ and ‘Don’t tread on me -anti-Americanism Abroad.’ Her next book is about her late mother’s army experiences at segregated Camp Pickett, Virginia.


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