There is a lack of clarity as to whether United States President Donald Trump’s so called “Fake News Awards” will go ahead on Wednesday after a January 7th tweet in which he promised to name “the most corrupt and biased of the Mainstream Media”.
The White House Press Secretary on Tuesday said she would keep the media posted on any details. And while some U.S. comedic television hosts have been campaigning to be included in the President’s list of shame, some lawmakers have denounced the actions as that of a dictator.
President’s spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders casted some doubt on whether the awards would happen at all.
“We’ll keep you posted on any details around that potential event and what that would look like,” she said.
The response prompted several lawmakers, among them two Republicans to speak out.
Senator John McCain in an op-ed referred to President Trump’s unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets – warning that it has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit.
His colleague Senator Jeff Flake took to the Senate Floor. “Now we are told via Twitter that, today, the president intends to announce his choice for the quote ‘most corrupt and dishonest media awards.’ It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle, but here we are. And so, 2018 must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power that would weaken it. In this effort the choice is quite simple, and in this effort the truth needs as many allies as possible. Together, my colleagues, together we have it within us to turn back these attacks, to write these wrongs, repair this damage, restore reverence for our institutions and prevent further moral vandalism.”
The Committee to Project Journalists sites some 262 reporters jailed in 2017 alone for doing their work, among them two Reuters’ journalists currently being held in Myanmar. Senator Flake went on to liken the President’s rhetoric to that of Joseph Stalin.
“Not only has the past year seen an American President borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he is now in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language. That is reprehensible. We are not in a fake news era, as Bashar al-Assad says. We are, rather, in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself to challenge free people and free societies everywhere.
“In our own country – from the trivial to the truly dangerous – it is the range and regularity of the untruths we see that should be the cause for profound alarm and spur to action. Add to that the by now the predictable habit of calling true things false and false things true, and we have a recipe for disaster,” Senator Flake added.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also addressing attacks on the press just this week says, “At a time of troubling crackdowns on the independence of the media, I want to express that I will continue to defend freedom and safety of the press both in public and through diplomatic engagement,” said Guterres.
Late night talk shows hosts have been openly campaigning in a bid to be included on the President’s list – dubbing the awards “the fakies”. It’s anyone guess if the fakies will go ahead or if they too are an example of fake news.