US president Donald Trump has gleefully weighed in on the news of mass layoffs at Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post in typically abrasive fashion on his Twitter account.
According to Trump, who is facing an unprecedented challenge to his presidency following the arrest of longtime adviser Roger Stone and another impending government shutdown on the horizon, hundreds of personnel lost their jobs because their employers are engaged in “fake news”.
It will be recalled that Buzzfeed and HuffPo laid off a total of more than a thousand journalists and creative writers last week in the latest round of efficiency cuts to rock the media industry which is being squeezed by the emergence of new platforms and the continued revenue slide of conventional journalism. Both companies chalked up the layoffs to restructuring changed business models and a subsequent need to reduce costs.
Tweeting on Saturday evening Trump said:
“Ax falls quickly at BuzzFeed and Huffpost!” Headline, New York Post. Fake News and bad journalism have caused a big downturn. Sadly, many others will follow. The people want the Truth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
BuzzFeed and HuffPost had earlier identified underlying financial problems as the reason for the layoffs, but clearly, Trump was not in a mood for magnanimity as the news provided a welcome distraction from the storm clouds gathering over his embattled presidency. Buzzfeed, in particular, has been a key source of frustration for Trump following its recent coverage of a story alleging that Trump directed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie under oath about a real estate deal in Moscow.
Reacting to the Presidents tweet, Ben Smith, editor in chief at BuzzFeed described it as “a disgusting thing to say about dozens of American workers who just lost their jobs.” In her reaction, HuffPo editor in chief Lydia Polgreen criticized Trump’s decision to mock working people because of politics. Responding to his tweet he said:
1,000 journalists lost their jobs last week. Ordinary people with rent to pay, families to support, student loan bills coming due. They are workers like any other who do not deserve this cruelty.
These criticisms come at a time when furloughed federal workers continue to face difficulty due to problems caused by missed payment deadlines, degraded credit scores and unpaid outstanding bills which will remain unpaid until at least the end of this week. Even worse from the workers’ point of view, there is the prospect of another government shutdown coming after the interim funding deal expires in two weeks, with Trump once again indicating that he is unwilling to accept any deal that does not include funding for a border wall.
On Trump’s part, the recent arrest of longtime ally Roger Stone further emphasizes the specter of a possible impending indictment by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While providing an entertaining aside from the president’s point of view, the ongoing fight with news media whom he regularly brands “fake news” is unlikely to galvanize all but his most ardent supporters as he enters the most difficult period of his presidency to date.