Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, attempted to humiliate Washington Post journalist David Farenthold for sending a letter to the Trump Organization that — despite his disparaging characterization — was in fact standard journalistic procedure.
This article first appeared in Salon.
On Friday the president's son tweeted "These are the tactics used by the @WashingtonPost. @JeffBezos - you should be very proud... ?" He also included a copy of a letter ostensibly written by Farenthold in which the journalist offered members of the Trump Organization his contact information, offered to speak with potential sources on background and provided them with an encrypted link where they could send documents anonymously.
"Ummm, Eric. This is called journalism," Ahmed Baba, the editor-in-chief of Rantt Media, tweeted in response to the supposed outrage expressed by the president's son. "Speaking to sources on background and anonymously sourcing documents to expose corruption is par for the course. I think you should learn how to use this other neat thing called Google before you tweet."
Frank Figliuzzi, a national security contributor at NBC News, tweeted that it "sounds like journalism to me. Are you concerned about what people are hiding about you?"
Meanwhile historian and author Kevin M. Kruse tweeted that "it’s a shame this polite and professional email didn’t meet your family’s high standards for journalism" while including a link to a Guardian article discussing how the Trump campaign worked with the National Enquirer to catch and kill unflattering stories about the future president.
This isn't the first time that the Trump children have engaged in what seem like coordinated attacks on the media. It was recently revealed that Arthur Schwartz, an ally of Donald Trump Jr. and Steve Bannon, is a "central player" in an organization that has been raising money to dig up dirt on journalists whose work is critical of the president in order to discredit them. Schwartz had previously been described by The Daily Beast as Trump Jr's "fixer" and has already drawn attention to anti-Semitic college tweets posted by a New York Times politics editor, anti-Semitic tweets from a CNN photo editor and tweets from a CNN reporter that included an anti-gay slur.
Eric Trump has frequently been ridiculed based on the perception that he isn't very bright. In July he controversially told "Fox & Friends" that "my father is in there, and he’s fighting every single day. And he has to fight against the media. He has to fight against these lunatics. And guys, I’m telling you, 95 percent of this country is behind him in this message. I mean, people love this nation." In 2017, after a "Saturday Night Live" sketch predicted that he would spill the beans about his father keeping tabs on his business empire despite it being ethically questionable to do so, Trump admitted to a news outlet that the president keeps in touch with his sons about "the bottom line, profitability reports and stuff like that, but you know, that’s about it."
He later added, "My father and I are very close. I talk to him a lot. We’re pretty inseparable."