Today was to be the day that Trump promised he would embark on another unpresidential act, announcing the “winners” of the “Fake News Award.” This might prove to be difficult for him, as he like to be the winner of everything. If he goes through with the preposterous thing, I’m sure he’ll find a way to give himself an award.
Of course, Trump’s motive here is insidious. Blasting the press is always the refuge of dictators and despots. The goal is to close out any dissenting viewpoints, in order to create a “safe space,” state-run media bubble, where no one hears or reads negative views about him. All that is filtered out and all that’s left are the sycophants and bobbleheads of Fox News and Gateway Pundit.
Whether or not Trump does this, some, particularly two GOP Senators from Arizona, are taking this non-event to scold Trump on his treatment of the press. Senator McCain in an op-ed writes:
This assault on journalism and free speech proceeds apace in places such as Russia, Turkey, China, Egypt, Venezuela and many others. Yet even more troubling is the growing number of attacks on press freedom in traditionally free and open societies, where censorship in the name of national security is becoming more common. Britain passed a surveillance law that experts warn chills free speech, and countries from France to Germany are looking to do the same. In Malta, a prominent journalist was brutally murdered in October after uncovering systemic government corruption. In Poland, an independent news outlet was fined (later rescinded) nearly half a million dollars for broadcasting images of an anti-government protest.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s attitude toward such behavior has been inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets. This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase “fake news” — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens. CPJ documented 21 cases in 2017 in which journalists were jailed on “fake news” charges.
Trump’s attempts to undermine the free press also make it more difficult to hold repressive governments accountable. For decades, dissidents and human rights advocates have relied on independent investigations into government corruption to further their fight for freedom. But constant cries of “fake news” undercut this type of reporting and strip activists of one of their most powerful tools of dissent.
We cannot afford to abdicate America’s long-standing role as the defender of human rights and democratic principles throughout the world. Without strong leadership in the White House, Congress must commit to protecting independent journalism, preserving an open and free media environment, and defending the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression.
And Senator Jeff Flake just finished a fiery speech on the Senate floor:
Flake: “An American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame, is charting a very dangerous path” https://t.co/Mut8uKwiDg
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 17, 2018
So, it was Fake News that there would be Fake News awards. https://t.co/q204CgVrQq
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 16, 2018