Could Trump’s Anti-Media Rants Lead to Actual Violence Against Journalists?

“We’ve certainly seen people who have been inflamed by rhetoric who have gone out and done horrible things,” media expert tells TheWrap

President Trump ramped up his anti-media rhetoric this week during a rally in Arizona, leaving some observers to question whether journalists should be concerned for their safety.

Trump took numerous shots at the “truly dishonest people” in the media during the Tuesday night rally, including calling the industry “pathetic,” “dishonest” and “liars.”

Syracuse University journalism professor and media historian Robert Thompson thinks that journalists should absolutely be nervous on the heels of Trump’s speech.

“I think it is a legitimate concern. We’ve certainly seen people who have been inflamed by rhetoric who have gone out and done horrible things,” Thompson told TheWrap.

Accordion to a transcript published by Time, Trump used the terms “dishonest” 10 times, “fake news” three times and the crowd eventually chanted, “CNN sucks!” The president also singled out ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, referring to him as “Little George.”

Thompson isn’t the only person concerned. Many members of the industry are speaking out. Nicholas Kristof penned an op-ed in The New York Times, titled, “We’re Journalists, Mr. Trump, Not the Enemy,” in which he detailed the situation.

“Sigh. If only President Trump denounced neo-Nazis as passionately and sincerely as he castigates journalists,” Kristof wrote to kick off the piece.

“Trump has systematically tried to delegitimize the institutions that hold him accountable — courts, prosecutors, investigators, the media — and that’s the context for his vilification of all them, for we collectively provide monitoring that outrages him,” Kristof said. “When Trump galvanizes crowds against reporters in the room, I worry that we may lose journalists in the line of duty not only in places like Syria but also right here at home. Trump will get people hurt.”

Daily Caller editor Peter Hasson published a column, titled, “Trump rally leaves media fearing for safety,” in which he noted several prominent journalists who have expressed fear. This is especially noteworthy because the typically conservative Daily Caller usually focuses on bias in the mainstream media.

As Hasson pointed out, ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega said, “It really feels like a matter of time before someone gets hurt.” NBC’s Chuck Todd had similar views on Trump’s speech.

“Whether POTUS means it or not, I don’t know, but this could motivate a crazy. dangerous rhetoric. Sad how few elected officials condemn it,” Todd wrote on Twitter.

Former Politico boss and Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei is also concerned and penned an open letter to the president through a series of tweets, calling Trump’s rhetoric “despicable,” “extremely deceptive” and “dangerous.”

Thompson said that journalists have been in danger “many times before” and doesn’t think members of the media receive the credit they deserve.

“The thing that journalists need to do is to keep doing their job, which is an important job to be done in a republic,” Thompson said. “Just as we thank soldiers for their service, I think we should also thank public school teachers for their service, and I think we should thank journalists for their service.”