A group of former ABC News employees, including former correspondents and executives, have added their names to an open letter denouncing President Donald Trump’s “sustained attack on the free press.”
“We denounce Donald Trump's behavior as unconstitutional, un-American and utterly unlawful and unseemly for the President of the United States and leader of the free world,” reads the letter, which had nearly 100 signatures on Facebook as of Tuesday afternoon.
The organizer, Meredith Wheeler, a former writer and producer who worked with several ABC News anchors, asked for members of an ABC News alumni Facebook group to share the letter with current employees and friends at other media outlets. She even suggested the possibility of crowdfunding to take out a full page article in The New York Times or The Washington Post.
The letter comes in response to the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and Trump’s recent praise of Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., who assaulted Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, last year after Jacobs asked a question about healthcare.
Several current ABC News employees contacted by NBC News expressed caution about putting their names on an open letter denouncing Trump, at least while they work in the news division.
But one insider said they would be willing to put their name on the letter, “depending on how it was presented within the organization.”
The current version of the letter, posted in the ABC News alumni Facebook group, reads:
"On the heels of the recent brutal murder of a The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump chose to celebrate the assault of The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by an American congressman—an attack that occurred while the journalist was simply doing his job, posing questions to a politician.
Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte (R) body-slammed Jacobs, knocking him to the ground and beating him severely enough to send him to the hospital. Although Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault and was fined, the President of the United States praised this violent behavior at a Trump rally in Missoula, Montana, on October 18.
Trump’s condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press—which includes labeling any
reportage he doesn’t like as “fake news” and barring reporters and news organizations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events.
One of the pillars of a free and open democracy is a vibrant free press.
At his inauguration the President of the United States swears to protect the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment.
This President is utterly failing to do so and actively working not simply to undermine the press, but to incite violence against it as well.
In a lawsuit filed by PEN, the writer’s organization, against Donald Trump, they charge him with violating the First Amendment. We, the undersigned, past and present members of the Fourth Estate, support this action.
We denounce Donald Trump's behavior as unconstitutional, un-American and utterly unlawful and unseemly for the President of the United States and leader of the free world."