Speakers on a panel of journalists at the annual meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington said journalism is suffering in the era of President Donald Trump.
“One of the things that has just been boiling my blood is the lack of respect for the press coming from the orange man,” Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., said Friday, opening a panel discussion called “Black Journalists: Reporting Our Experiences in the Era of Trump.”
The event was part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Dubbed “the leading policy conference on issues impacting African-Americans and the global black community,” the conference opened Wednesday and ends Sunday.
April Ryan, a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and author of “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House,” said the Trump administration treats her unfairly.
“This White House is very cunning in what it does,” Ryan said, noting that she and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “clearly don’t have a relationship.”
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) September 14, 2018
“But there may be one or two people that I may see,” Ryan said, adding:
They may even talk about me on Fox News, but they will pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, I want you to come and sit.’ And I can’t say the name of the person, but a very, very, very, very high-ranking person that is close to the president wants me to talk to them because they understand that I have alleged influence in their eyes—to talk to them about issues of prison reform.
So I can get the word out, but yet they hate me. They berated me for the world to see. They call me every name but a child of God, yet they understand that I have an audience.
Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for The Washington Post, said he is not afraid to call Trump out as a racist.
“I ran through all of the evidence, because when I am writing my opinion pieces—I have never gone to law school, but when I write, I kind of feel like I am writing a brief, because I am anticipating the Trump supporters or the people who want to come after me, to say, ‘How dare you say that? Where is your evidence?’
“And I put it out there: ‘Here, here is what he said. Oh, you don’t believe? He said it. Here is the hyperlink. Click on the hyperlink, and you can see what he says,’” Capehart said, without citing examples.
Ryan also said Americans should not trust the recent positive economic numbers, which include the highest employment rate on record for blacks.
“We are still the community that has the highest numbers of negatives in almost every category. Every category,” she said. “Don’t be fooled by that jobs number thing, OK? Seriously. And the economy is shallow right now, [because] trust me … and this is the truth: It is tanking. Be prepared.”
In June, CNBC reported that the black unemployment rate decreased to 5.9 percent in May, “hitting the lowest level since the government started to record that data in 1972.”
In July, citing the Commerce Department, NPR reported that the “economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace,” almost “double the first-quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years.”
Ryan said the environment of the White House press corps has changed with Trump’s administration.
“As a reporter, it’s a friendly atmosphere, a relationship, and it has been that way for years. But now it is adversarial,” she said, adding:
The problem is, the newsroom is now divided. During the Clinton years, I remember we were all … thinking as one. It started breaking down, I think, really more so. I didn’t really see it in the Obama years, I saw some discontent … but now there is a conservative reporting group and a liberal reporting group, and now those who think they’re in the middle … and now there are factions.
And this side, the conservative side, are friends with the administration, and just take anything they say without challenging it.
Christina Coleman-Mullen, news and culture director at Glamour magazine, said she thinks people are consuming less news because they are still recovering from Trump’s election.
Coleman-Mullen said she was tasked with bringing a news element to Essence magazine, where she previously worked. She said she found that readers became less interested in news about Trump after the 2016 presidential election.
“What we found is that people wanted to consume that news, and traffic grew tremendously, like historically, at Essence.com,” Coleman-Mullen said. “What happened the following January was that traffic dipped because people were fatigued.
“They did not want to hear about Trump’s every move. They did not want to see his tweets, and quite frankly, because Essence is a black publication, there was some trauma surrounding the presidential election,” she said.