National Press Club

National Press Club President: What Does Donald Trump Have Against the Constitution?

May 31, 2016 | By John M. Donnelly |

The National Press Club president expressed alarm on Tuesday about Donald Trump’s dangerous attitude toward the First Amendment.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Trump had said “the press should be ashamed of themselves” for investigating his fundraising for veterans. Trump at one point called an ABC News reporter a “sleaze.” “You know my opinion of the media,” Trump said, “it’s very low.”

Two days before, Trump had told a crowd on the National Mall that reporters are “liars” and “lowlifes.”

Trump had previously called for making it easier for public figures to sue news organizations for libel, a change that would practically suffocate a free press and potentially disable some news companies.

What’s more, Trump’s campaign organization has blocked from his events news outlets whose coverage has not suited the candidate. And reporters who are allowed to attend must stay in “pens” rather than move about freely.

“Donald Trump misunderstands—or, more likely, simply opposes--the role a free press plays in a democratic society,” said Thomas Burr, the National Press Club president. “Reporters are supposed to hold public figures accountable. Any American political candidate who attacks the press for doing its job is campaigning in the wrong country. In the United States, under our Constitution, a free press is a check on politicians of all parties.”

“If we are to demand that other countries respect the tradition of a free press we must also practice that here at home,” Burr added.

The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the Club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.

Contact: John M. Donnelly, Chairman, NPC Press Freedom Committee,; 202 650 6738.