Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and current Senate candidate from Utah, spoke out Thursday against President Trump’s continued use of the term “enemy of the people” to describe the U.S. media.
In a blog post on his campaign website, Romney wrote that “denigrating the media diminishes an institution that is critical to democracy, both here and abroad.”
“As a political tactic, it may be brilliant, but it comes with a large cost to the cause of freedom,” he said in the piece, in which he concluded that the media is “very much our friend.”
Romney’s “As I See It” blog post was prompted by a Trump tweet this week in which he denigrated the “Fake News Media” as “the true Enemy of the People” and blamed “fraudulent” reporting for anger that has led to a spate of recent violence in the country.
In his piece, Romney voiced sympathy for being the subject of unfavorable or inaccurate stories but said no president has ever “vilified” the media as Trump does.
“I sometimes become irritated by stories I know are wrong, especially when they are about me,” Romney said. “But I cannot conceive of thinking or saying that the media or any responsible news organization is an enemy.”
He said instead that the country is “indebted as a democratic nation to the free press for truths it has uncovered, for truth it has disseminated, and for falsehoods it has repudiated.”
“The press uncovered the government’s lies about the war in Vietnam; it exposed Watergate; it opened our eyes to the sexual abuse of children by priests; and, most recently, it shed a light on the sexual assault by numerous men in power,” Romney wrote. “The free press dispelled the false conspiracies about the 9/11 attacks, President Obama’s birth, and Joe McCarthy’s lurking communists. The work of a free press is essential.”
In recent days, Trump has sought to emphasize that he does not consider the media as a whole “the enemy of the people” but only those outlets that disseminate “fake news.”
During a Fox News interview in August, Trump said he considers about 80 percent of the media to be the enemy.
In an interview this week with Axios, Trump defended his use of the term and dismissed a suggestion that one of his supporters could be inspired by his rhetoric to commit violence against a reporter.
“It’s my only form of fighting back,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t do that.”