Fox News host Chris Wallace escalated the network's war with Trump, blaming him for the 'most direct sustained assault' on press freedom in US history

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images/Twitter/FoxNewsSundayA composite image of President Donald Trump in October and Chris Wallace during a Fox News broadcast about the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
  • The Fox News host Chris Wallace on Wednesday said President Donald Trump was “engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”
  • He said Trump was trying “to raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted” and linked it to polls showing people doubting the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
  • The comments come as a war between Trump and Fox News escalates, with Trump repeatedly criticising the network that was once his close ally and many of its most prolific hosts and contributors hitting back.
  • Trump and Wallace have sparred previously, with Trump saying in October that Wallace “will never be his father” – the prolific CBS interviewer who died in 2012 – after Wallace’s coverage of the impeachment inquiry.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Fox News host Chris Wallace says US President Donald Trump has launched the most sustained attack on press freedom in the country’s history.

“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said on Wednesday night, according to The Guardian.

He made the comments at the Newseum, a museum about the media industry and free expression in Washington, DC, at an event celebrating the First Amendment. The event was also a farewell for the Newseum, which is closing at the end of the year.

“He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try and delegitimize us, and I think his purpose is clear: to raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted,” Wallace said.

He also discussed “fake news,” a phrase that originally referred to intentionally false information but was co-opted by Trump during his presidential campaign to disparage the legitimate news media.

Chris wallaceREUTERS/Aaron JosefczykWallace.

“Back in 2017, he tweeted something that said far more about him than it did about us: ‘The fake news media is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people,'” Wallace said.

He also said Trump’s comments were changing people’s view of the media and the Constitution.

“Let’s be honest: The president’s attacks have done some damage,” he said. “A Freedom Forum Institute poll, associated here with the Newseum, this year found that 29% of Americans, almost a third of all of us, think the First Amendment goes too far. And 77%, three-quarters, say that fake news is a serious threat to our democracy.”

Wallace also noted that Bill McRaven, who was a Navy Seal for 37 years, described Trump’s comments about the media as maybe “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime” because they undermined the Constitution, The Guardian reported.

NewseumAlex Wong/Getty ImagesVisitors browsing newspaper front pages covering the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Newseum in Washington, DC, in September 2016.

The comments come as a war between Trump and Fox News escalates, with Trump repeatedly criticising the network that was once his close ally and many of its most prolific hosts and contributors hitting back.

Trump has started to direct criticism at the outlet and its main figures in light of slumping polling figures and coverage of controversies that surround him.

He reportedly fears that the network is not loyal enough to him, and has repeatedly said Fox News has “changed.”

Trump Fox NewsChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesTrump, then a presidential candidate, at a debate sponsored by Fox News in March 2016.

It is not the first time Trump and Wallace have sparred. In October, Trump tweeted after Wallace’s coverage of impeachment proceedings against him that Wallace “will never be his father” – a reference to Mike Wallace, the prolific CBS interviewer who died in 2012.

Trump also called Wallace “nasty” and “obnoxious” in November after his interview with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise about the impeachment inquiry.

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