NASHVILLE, Tenn. – American Urban Radio Networks reporter and CNN analyst April Ryan engaged in a fierce debate Sunday with a man who said he thought the press was the “enemy of the people,” during a panel discussion at Politicon in Nashville.
Derek Barton, 42, was the only person in a large audience to raise his hand when Ryan asked if anyone believed the press was the enemy. She specifically requested that he jump ahead of others in a line designated for questions, so that she could discuss his belief with him in front of the crowd.
White House reporters including Ryan and Playboy reporter Brian Karem — also a vocal critic of President Trump — were on stage. The panel, entitled “White House Correspondents Dilemma,” featured unanimous criticism of the way the Trump administration has treated the media.
Karem, for example, plainly claimed that White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham “lies, period.” He also claimed Trump had convinced millions of people it was OK to commit acts of violence against him and other reporters.
At one point during Ryan’s exchange with Barton, she asked him if he had even read former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, something Barton referenced as they discussed media bias and a purported narrative on the part of reporters. Barton said he had read the Mueller report.
Shortly thereafter, Ryan told another audience member, who apparently criticized the way she was conducting the conversation, that Barton hadn’t even read the report. It’s unclear why she made that claim, but for Barton, the episode illustrated the original point he was trying to make — that the media suppressed certain information in order to feed a narrative.
“You just did what I said you do, and what makes you the enemy of people,” Barton said of Ryan while speaking to Fox News. “You just lied about what I said because you know they couldn’t hear me.” Ryan did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Barton discussed why he raised his hand in the first place. “Because it was a baited question, and I feel like they ask that question because they feel like it’s their job to push a narrative over truth, and I believe that is, in fact, being the enemy of the state,” he said. “They may not think of themselves as North Korea, but I think when you push political agenda over the truth, you’ve become an enemy to a huge portion of America.”
While Barton was speaking to Fox News, one of the reporters from the panel approached Barton and apologized for the treatment he received.
“I’m sorry for how that went down. I feel like that was very frustrating for them to force you to talk and then they didn’t let you talk. I’m really sorry about that,” the reporter, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
Although Trump repeatedly has said the press is the enemy of the people, he’s also clarified that he intended that description to apply only to what he’s called “fake news.”