Merkel Pushes Back on Trump's Media Attacks, Calls for ‘Respect’

  • German chancellor voices her support for press freedom
  • Contrasts with Trump’s ‘enemy of the American people’ label

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed respect for the media in a pointed contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump, whose latest Twitter blast labeled mainstream outlets “the enemy of the American people.”

“I stand by a free and independent press and have great respect for journalists,” Merkel said at an international security conference in Munich with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in the audience. “We’ve always done well in Germany when we mutually respect each other.”

Angela Merkel in Munich on Feb. 18.

Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

The comment is a rejoinder after a tumultuous week in Washington, where Trump used part of a 77-minute press conference to pillory the U.S. media as dishonest and unfair. In a Friday evening tweet, the president singled out the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN, saying they aren’t “my enemy” but “the enemy of the American people.”

Merkel was answering a question by a German journalist about her view of the quality of U.S. newspaper reporting, not Trump’s comments. She responded with a commitment to press freedom in Germany -- an element of the nation’s revival of democracy under American-led tutelage after World War II.

“If there are differences of opinion, then we discuss it, but we accept press freedom as a great pillar of democracy,” she said.