Donald Trump was recognized for going out of his way “to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday released a list of the world’s worst press oppressors — and Donald Trump took home home the top honor, beating out dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The list of global press oppressors recognizes world leaders “who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.” It was released in response to Trump’s upcoming “fake news” awards ceremony.
Trump was named the winner of the “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom” award for going “above and beyond to silence critical voices and weaken democracy.”
Among other things, Trump has popularized the term “fake news,” using it to describe any news that he doesn’t like — at times, even his own words. He uses the bully pulpit to openly promote Fox News as his personal propaganda arm while denigrating other news sources and calling for the firing of journalists who make honest mistakes.
Most recently, Trump called for banning the book “Fire and Fury” because he doesn’t like its unflattering portrayal of his first year in office.
“The United States, with its First Amendment protection for a free press, has long stood as a beacon for independent media around the world,” CPJ wrote. “While previous U.S. presidents have each criticized the press to some degree, they have also made public commitments to uphold its essential role in democracy, at home and abroad.”
“Trump, by contrast, has consistently undermined domestic news outlets and declined to publicly raise freedom of the press with repressive leaders such as Xi [Jinping], Erdoğan, and Sisi.”
CPJ noted that, under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice has failed to commit to guidelines to protect journalists’ sources, while the State Department has proposed funding cuts for organizations that promote free press around the world.
Perhaps that explains CPJ’s decision to name Trump as the runner-up in the “Most Thin-skinned” category, right behind Turkey’s Erdogan.
“He regularly attacks outlets and individual journalists on Twitter and in speeches, calling them ‘sad,’ ‘failing,’ or ‘garbage,’” the committee wrote about Trump. “Since declaring his presidential candidacy in 2015, Trump has posted about 1,000 tweets critical of the press.”
While the effects of Trump’s attacks on the press are felt at home, they are most dire abroad. According to CPJ, with countries like the United States failing to hold repressive leaders accountable for their treatment of the press, the number of journalists in prison globally has reached a record high.
Trump’s disdain for the free press threatens fundamental democratic values. He took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution — and every time he attacks the press, he is attacking the basic principles that make America the great nation it is.
JANUARY 8, 2018