Days after high-profile actors, Democrats, and media companies were targets of alarming bomb threats, NBC News correspondent Cynthia McFadden expressed disappointment over President Donald Trump’s latest attacks on the media.
“The events of yesterday are unspeakable. I was heartened by the president’s tweet yesterday saying that these were unacceptable events. And, then saddened and dismayed about what he just said a couple of hours before this lunch that it is the fault of the mainstream media, the fake news, that there is this disruption and a terrible wound in this country,” she said on Thursday at the International Women’s Media Foundation‘s Courage in Journalism Awards in New York City.
She continued, “I don’t know if we are going to change the president, but I do hope that all of us will think long and hard about why the press has always played such a pivotal role in the glorious American experiment. We strive to get it right. We don’t always get it right, but even when it is not exactly right it is an important contribution to the democracy. I am shocked that the President of the United States does not know that.”
Lingering NYPD officers who checked in guests with bomb sniffing dogs overshadowed the light lunch of salmon and chardonnay. It was a harsh reminder of modern terrorist threats. “These are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who are putting their lives at risk in order to tell the truth. That is not OK anywhere, and it is sure is not OK here in the United States of America,” McFadden said.
Speeches by honorees such as Christy Turlington, MSNBC president Phil Griffin, and Lesley Stahl paid homage to female media pioneers, as well as recognized the common feeling that freedom of press is under attack.
“Political leaders have been calling journalists enemies of the people. Think about that — free press — enemies of the people. And what is our response? As Marty Baron, editor of the Washington Post said, ‘We are not at war, we are at work.’ I am ready and so are you,” Griffin said.
After being presented with the IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award, Stahl expressed her own feelings about an ongoing war between the media and politicians. Of her recent Trump interview, she said, “At ‘60 Minutes,’ for me anyway, it takes an army. When I go to do my reports there are many, many people who work with me and we work collaboratively…When I interviewed the president, it was an army and a navy.”
But, it was not a battle the Emmy winning reporter seemed willing to wave a white flag for just yet. With a wink to that Trump interview, Stahl cracked, “Just remember, Donald Trump is president, and you are not.”