These are ominous words. Inside the U.S., CNN’s reporting is protected by the First Amendment and the courts. Outside of the country, U.S.-affiliated journalists do ultimately depend on the protection of the U.S. government. Trump’s tweet is a direct attack on those international journalists’ freedom and even safety. Trump is inviting rogue regimes and other bad actors all over the world to harass CNN journalists—or worse. Trump’s words inspired this lament from General Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Trump’s animus against CNN raises a searching and troubling question. What if the Department of Justice is doing the right thing for the wrong reason? Or what if the president’s personal determination to silence a critical media institution—or, worse, to force its sale to an ally like Rupert Murdoch—explains the sudden pivot in the Department’s antitrust philosophy?