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Some in the news media saw danger Tuesday night when President Trump praised one cable news outlet over another, even though his predecessor often criticized Fox News’s coverage as unfair.

Trump wrote Tuesday on Twitter, “Congratulations to Fox News for being number one in inauguration ratings. They were many times higher than FAKE NEWS CNN – public is smart!”

Trump has referred to CNN as “fake news” before, and CNN’s own press release from Saturday, a day after the inauguration, admitted that the network had come in second behind Fox. But some journalists saw something nefarious in Trump’s whack at CNN.

“When the president thinks he has a right to help public pick and choose its media sources, it is a direct threat to democracy,” said David Rothkopf, the top editor for Foreign Policy magazine, on Twitter.

Also on Twitter, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman said the president is “not supposed to be telling Americans how to consume news.” He added that Trump’s “public endorsement of Fox News over cable news rivals is something I’ve never seen before.”

Dylan Byers, a media reporter at CNN, said, “The President of the United States wants you to watch one news organization and not another.”

But Trump is not the first president to take a hammer to a particular news outlet. Former president Obama was a frequent critic of Fox News, which he viewed as excessively hostile to him and his agenda.

Even just before the election in November, Obama said in an interview on HBO, “If I watched Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me either.”

The next month, he said his critics, when they’re angry at him, are “responding to a fictional character named Barack Obama who they see on Fox News…”

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