Weeks before the 2016 presidential election, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement unprecedented in the organization’s history warning that Donald Trump represented a threat to press freedoms throughout the world.
“A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious,” the statement said. “Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own countries. This appears to be of no concern to Trump, who indicated that he has no inclination to challenge governments on press freedom and the treatment of journalists.”
The “embolding” behavior the CPJ warned out was on display last Friday in Venezuela, where Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro handed out “bad news” awards to American outlets that wrote negative stories about his regime, which is suppressing free speech and press freedoms while children starve to death.
— Ben Bartenstein (@BenBartenstein) January 6, 2018
Maduro’s “bad news” awards appear to take a cue from President Trump, who is planning his own “Fake News Awards” ceremony.
I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
On Sunday, Trump — currently embroiled in controversy following the publication of a new book by Michael Wollff that portrays his administration as deeply dysfunctional — announced that his Fake News Awards event is being delayed by more than a week.
The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
During a news conference at Camp David on Saturday, Trump brought up the Wolff book and suggested he’d like to impose new laws to prevent books that portray him negatively from publication.
“I think it’s a disgrace that somebody is able to have something, do something like that,” Trump said. “The libel laws are very weak in this country. If they were strong, it would be very helpful — you wouldn’t have things like that happen.”