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View from the Ridge: A free press will never let Trump be censor-in-chief

Outburst: Mr Trump
at the White House
news conference PICTURE: AP

FEW things are more irritating than journalists talking about themselves — but in the wake of Donald Trump’s extraordinary press conference this week, I hope you’ll forgive me.

The White House has banned CNN reporter Jim Acosta over what they term ‘unacceptable conduct’, accusing him of ‘placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job’.

However, the video shows the official trying to take the microphone from Mr Acosta while he was questioning the president, and the reporter resisting.

Mr Trump then says: ‘You are a rude, terrible person — and you shouldn’t be working for CNN… When you report fake news, like CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of people.’

It is imperative that, in these situations, journalists stick up for each other.

It is not acceptable to ban reporters when you don’t like the questions they ask, or describe them as enemies of the people. A free press is integral to democracy and we should not take it for granted (although those who highlight that Mr Trump does more press conferences and takes more questions than British politicians have a point).

The news conference was originally called to reflect on the results of the midterm elections, which many hoped would chart a fresh direction for a riven country. However, the results have served only to entrench the divisions.

The Democrats have done well enough to take the House of Representatives — and make life a lot more difficult for the president. But the Republicans comfortably kept control of the Senate and their vote held up better than many expected.

The US remains divided, between towns and rural areas, young and old, education, gender and race. The 2020 White House race has now begun — and Donald Trump shouldn’t be written off.

We need more honey… and less ‘gammon’

Divisive: Boris Johnson and Brexiteers during the referendum campaign PICTURE: GETTY

THE ‘Word of the Year’ list compiled by dictionary makers Collins includes ‘gammon’ — defined as ‘a person, typically male, middle-aged and white, with reactionary views, especially one who supports the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union’.

Is anyone else uncomfortable with the use of the word gammon?

If we — rightly — call out the abusive language aimed at women or ethnic minorities, why is it acceptable to sneer at white middle-aged men in this way? The ‘gammon’ insult became popular after a children’s author tweeted an image of nine rather red-faced men on Question Time.

Our politics is divisive enough without taunting people’s appearance or demeaning them as they express genuinely held views.

We can do better.

Old soldiers fight for a good cause

Squaring up: Sophy meets the boxers

THIS week on Sophy Ridge on Sunday we’ll be focusing on the armed forces as we mark 100 years since the end of World War I.

Yesterday, I headed to Brighton & Hove Amateur Boxing Club for the Remembrance Rumble — where ex-SAS soldiers took on former US Special Forces in a charity boxing match to mark the centenary. They were fighting for Save Our Soldier, Help Our Wounded and Holidays For Heroes.

After the fight, I sat down with some of the toughest men I’ve ever interviewed to talk about mental health. It’s worth a watch — tune in to Sky News at 9am this Sunday.

■ BREXIT is reaching a critical phase and Theresa May could ask her Cabinet to agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal in days. But Brexiteers would struggle to drum up excitement about the intricacies of the backstop. Mrs May wants an independent mechanism to end a temporary customs deal as part of the Irish backstop in case talks with the EU collapse. In other words — she’s trying to ensure Britain has an escape route from a worst-case scenario she hopes will never happen. How inspiring. No wonder they didn’t put that on the side of a bus.

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