Trump’s fake news awards condemned as ‘attack on free press’

CNN sweeps the board at president’s ‘honours’ for bad reporting

Donald Trump
Critics say Trump may be using issue as a diversion from gun laws debate
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Donald Trump has given out ‘fake news awards’ to members of the US media - a new escalation of the president’s ever-souring relationship with the press.

Unsurprisingly, it was CNN who walked away with the most gongs. The news network, long a favourite target of Trump’s vitriol, was named in four of the 11 instances of “fake news” highlighted in a post published on the Republican Party’s official website this morning.

Trump originally planned to give out the ‘awards’ on 8 January, but postponed the announcement amid the media whirlwind surrounding the publication of Fire and Fury, journalist Michael Wolff’s explosive account of the Trump administration.

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The awards are less elaborate than those initially outlined by the president, which would have awarded prizes in a variety of categories.

Trump’s newly published list highlights examples of “fake news” ranging “from minor errors by journalists on social media to news reports that later invited corrections”, The Guardian reports.

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The American Civil Liberties Union, well known for taking on legal cases upholding freedom of speech, tweeted that the awards were “the latest in a long list of attacks against our First Amendment and freedom of the press”.

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Others also expressed concern about Trump’s unprecedented intervention.

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The Seattle Times reporter Mike Rosenberg and economist Davis Rothschild were among those who argued that while the news organisations had admitted their mistakes, the White House attempts to pass off its own inaccurate claims as truth.

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Although many commentators reacted to the attack on the media with anger, some couldn’t help but laugh.

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Newsweek’s Chris Riotta graciously accepted his award for a story on an awkward greeting between Trump and the wife of the Polish president.

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Trump first used the phrase “fake news” in a tweet he posted as president-elect in December 2016, and has used it with increasing frequency since as a weapon in his unprecedented war on the press, adding a new buzzword to the American political lexicon.

Little more than two weeks into 2018, “already… he has posted the phrase ‘fake news’ to Twitter ten times”, The Independent reports.

Moments before unveiling the “winners”, however, the president struck an unusually conciliatory tone towards the press, praising the “many great reporters” in the country - although he failed to name any.

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