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The GW Hatchet

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By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Veteran reporter recounts challenges of covering Trump White House

White+House+reporter+April+Ryan%2C+left%2C+speaks+of+the+difficulties+she+has+faced+while+covering+the+Trump+administration+at+an+event+in+the+Media+and+Public+Affairs+building+Thursday.
Jack Fonseca | Staff Photographer
White House reporter April Ryan, left, speaks of the difficulties she has faced while covering the Trump administration at an event in the Media and Public Affairs building Thursday.

White House reporter April Ryan spoke about her experiences covering the president at an event in the Media and Public Affairs building Thursday.

The event, hosted by the School of Media and Public Affairs and the GW Association of Black Journalists, was part of the University’s Black Heritage Celebration. Ryan, the Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks and a political analyst for CNN, spoke about her career, the difficulties she has faced reporting on the Trump administration and her new memoir, “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.”

In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the event:

1. Standing up to the president
Ryan spoke about the difficulties and disrespect many journalists face from President Donald Trump, recalling a moment when the president told her to “sit down” during a White House press briefing last year.

“It’s not a dictatorship where he says, ‘Sit down, stand up’ – we are the United States of America, with freedoms,” she said. “If I were to stand up and pop down and sit up when he says and ask the questions that he wants, that’s like Russia and China.”

Ryan said the incident during the press briefing is representative of how the president views the media, women and minorities.

“In his mind, I was nothing,” she said. “It wasn’t just about me in that moment, it was about the press, it was about women, it was about black women, it was about my children who didn’t need to see their mama cow down for something that she didn’t do wrong.”

2. ‘This is not a game’
Ryan also discussed the dangers of her job, saying the Trump administration’s negative characterization of the press has endangered her safety. She said she employs a security detail because she has received numerous death threats while covering the president.

“I’m considered the enemy of the people for telling the truth,” she said. “I’ve had to find security for telling the truth.”

Ryan said she was targeted in the fall when a man accused of mailing pipe bombs to several political figures also posted a photo of Ryan and Don Lemon, a news anchor for CNN, with the caption, “We’re next.”

“This is not a game, and this is not a joke, and unfortunately, there are people who take this seriously, who are twisted in the mind, and they take this stuff and act on it,” she said.

3. Putting words to paper
Ryan said she decided to write her new book to accurately portray her experience covering the Trump White House and the difficulties involved with covering an administration that is openly hostile toward the press.

“I’m not going to have someone write my story for me,” she said.

Ryan said she will not allow White House officials’ animosity toward the media to prevent her from reporting the truth.

“You are not going to call me out – too much is riding on this,” she said. “You’re not going to lie on me, you’re not going to smear me.”

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