Former President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis sounded off on Donald Trump’s continual attacks on press freedoms in a Washington Post column Wednesday.
Davis acknowledged that her father had a contentious relationship to the press, telling an anecdote about reporters using zoom lenses to photograph the family eating dinner at his Rancho del Cielo that led to a detente between the press and the first family during his presidency.
“The verbal sparring between my father and Sam Donaldson of ABC, or Helen Thomas of UPI, is well documented,” the former first daughter wrote. “But there was never vitriol, there was never name-calling, and if anyone had attacked a journalist, my father would have been the first to stand in the way.”
Referencing a recent Trump rally in which supporters loudly berated CNN’s Jim Acosta, Davis said that she couldn’t imagine what her father would have done in the president’s place — because he would never have stood for such attacks.
“I found it difficult to conjure the image, and then I realized why,” she wrote. “It simply wouldn’t have happened. The person on the podium, the person everyone has gathered to see, sets the tone.”
Trump, Davis continued, “has quite successfully set today’s tone” against the news media.
“He expertly stirred up the anger that was already simmering in the people who support him, and then he lit a match to it,” she continued. “He gave them an enemy — always a useful tactic.”
This is far from the first time a “tyrant” scapegoated the press as an enemy, the onetime first daughter noted.
“Trump may not read much,” Davis concluded, “but I’ll bet he knows that.”