One of the world's most prestigious journalism organizations has come out swinging at Donald Trump, declaring the billionaire real-estate tycoon a threat to press freedom should he become president.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Trump's "threats and vilification of the media during his campaign'' was the reason for its "unprecedented warning" about him.
"Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy,'' said Sandra Mims Rowe, chair of the CPJ's board of directors.
"For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.
"Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values.''
Sims Rowe said that since the beginning of the Republican presidential candidate's run, Trump has "insulted and vilified'' the press and made his opposition to the media a "centerpiece'' of his campaign.
"Trump has routinely labeled the press as 'dishonest' and 'scum' and singled out individual news organizations and journalists," Sims Rowe said.
Among those infractions, she said, was mocking a disabled New York Times journalist calling an ABC News reporter a "sleaze,'' and booting a Univision anchor from a press conference for asking an "impertinent" question.
"Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically,'' Sims Rowe said.
"[He] has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom ... His intent and his disregard for the constitutional free press principle are clear.
"This is not about picking sides in an election. This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history."
The New York City-based CPJ is an independent nonprofit that promotes press freedom worldwide, defending the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.
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