Award-winning White House correspondent April Ryan says she’s had to hire a bodyguard after receiving death threats, and she says the Trump White House has put “a target on my head.”
In an interview to promote her upcoming book “Under Fire,” Ryan told the Hollywood Reporter she wrote the book because she has been “under attack” by the Trump administration, particularly since she asked Trump “Are you a racist?” during one of his photo ops for Martin Luther King Day in January.
Ryan described the threat she feels to her safety, and pointed to Trump and his chief spokesperson, press secretary Sarah Sanders:
“How often do you get approached in public these days?”
“Oh, I get approached a lot, when I’m walking from my car, when I’m walking to my car, when I eat. Anywhere I go. I mean, they have put a target on my head, and I don’t know who’s who sometimes. It’s an interesting dynamic.”
“You’re concerned that people approaching you might be intending harm?”
“I’ve had some people wait for me outside the White House…. There is a concern now. I mean, I’ve had death threats, I’ve had craziness, so I have a real concern. An honest, real concern…. Do I have a bodyguard? Yes, I do. Am I paying for it? Yes, I am. And, I think [Sanders] should have to pay for it, especially if she’s stirring it up with her boss.”
Trump has waged a vicious and escalating campaign against the free press — which he calls “the enemy of the people” — but April Ryan has been an early, consistent, and frequent target of Trump and his underlings.
Last August, April Ryan was the only White House correspondent who was labeled an “enemy” in a Trump campaign ad attacking critics, and she has endured verbal attacks by Trump and several of his high-ranking officials.
At a press conference weeks after his inauguration, Trump made the belligerent and racist demand that Ryan “set up” a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Former press secretary Sean Spicer was frequently nasty to Ryan, including refusing to answer Ryan’s questions about Trump’s threats toward black colleges, and one infamous incident in which he said to Ryan “stop shaking your head.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been even more open in her hostility toward Ryan. In one particularly egregious episode, Sanders refused to condemn slavery, and called Ryan “disgusting” for asking the question.
And Trump administration official Lynne Patton was forced to apologize after she attacked Ryan, calling her “Miss Piggy” in a tweet that was later deleted from her government Twitter account. But Patton appears to have since deleted those apologies.
Trump’s hostility toward the press is perhaps matched only by his open vitriol toward black women, which was demonstrated just last week when he called former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog.”
As a member of the press who is also a black woman, April Ryan faces a disturbing level of anger just for doing her job and being who she is. No American should have to go through that.