Activists: Trump’s ‘Fake News’ Theme Used to Limit Global Press Freedom

With the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide at an all-time high, press freedom groups are drawing a direct line between President Donald Trump's verbal slugfest with some of America's most venerable news institutions and the adoption of his fake news mantra by autocrats and dictators around the world.

We're seeing an unprecedented attack on both the institution of journalism and the media, as well as very personal attacks on individual journalists and individual media outlets, says Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists. And what this does is it creates an environment in which journalists operate less safely.

The CPJ's 2017 press freedom survey shows 262 journalists are behind bars worldwide, slightly higher than the number a year ago. More than half the total are in Turkey, China, and Egypt.

"We saw the term 'fake news' being used in the Philippines, in Russia, in China, in Egypt to justify their own oppression of the media in attempts to delegitimize journalists Radsch told VOA. We've also seen China saying, 'Hey the U.S. is finally waking up to what we've been saying the whole time about the media being problematic,' and that's not what we want to see around the world.

An opinion piece in China's Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper this month said, If the president of the United States calls leading media outlets a stain on America, then negative news about China and other countries should be taken with a grain of salt, since it is likely that bias and political agendas are distorting the real picture.

British scholar Hisham Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, says fallout from Trump's fake news charges is serious and should not be underestimated.

When Trump uses his own freedom of expression to denigrate the media's ability to report the facts, and often puts forward his own 'fake news', it has the effect of empowering others who would like to do the same, Hellyer said.

Trump has hammered at the "fake news" theme in hundreds of Twitter posts, public comments and speeches, singling out media powerhouses like CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times for special criticism.

He once called CNN, the enemy of the people.

Source: Voice of America

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