And it’s making international headlines.
It came in the guise of a tweet:
International news media took note, as in the case of the Japan Times:
Donald Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the media Friday, describing the press as “the enemy of the American people!” in a tweet.
Shortly after landing at his holiday home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida — where he is spending a third consecutive weekend — the president lashed out in 140 characters.
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote.
Trump had tweeted an earlier post which targeted the New York Times, CNN, NBC “and many more” media — and ended with the exclamation “SICK!” But he swiftly deleted that missive before reposting the definitive version — adding two more “enemies” to his blacklist.
Many U.S. presidents have criticized the press, but Trump’s language has more closely echoed criticism leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.
And BBC News:
At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.
Being branded an “enemy of the people” by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.
Now the chilling phrase – which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called “hostis publicus”, enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 – is making something of a comeback.
“Charming that our uneducated President manages to channel the words of Stalin and fails to hear the historical resonance of this phrase,” tweeted Mitchell Orenstein, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: “The most dangerous ‘enemy of the people’ is presidential lying — always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon’s.”
Mr Trump is not the first US president to have an antagonistic relationship with the media — Nixon is known to have privately referred to the press as “the enemy” — but his latest broadside, with all its attendant historical echoes, is unprecedented.
As a journalist for more than decades, we find Trump’s declaration to be gravely ominous.
For the Fourth Estate, trouble lies ahead.