President Donald Trump continues to try and rally his base behind an ongoing effort to undercut major media outlets, doubling down with the results of one media-bashing contest and the launch of another.
After promising for several weeks to hand out awards to the most corrupt and fake news purveyors, the president finally unveiled the 11 “winners.” Mostly they went to mistakes, subsequently corrected, by some of his favorite targets.
Outlets targeted generally comprised familiar mainstream media outlets: CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
In an email to his supporters obtained by B&C, the president — through his campaign fundraising committee and the Republican National Committee — said that now that he had picked “just” 11 of the “very worst” of the “biased, absurd, and downright FAKE news stories the media wrote about us in 2017,” he wanted them to crown the King of Fake News of 2017.
The president’s goal appears to be to convince his base that stories critical of him are all part of a conspiracy to undercut his administration by the liberal media in service of Democrats.
In December, when ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross incorrectly reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn would testify that Trump told him to contact Russian officials while a candidate — arguably the most serious mistake on the president’s list — CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield said the president would use the error to dismiss mainstream media as fake news.
The president followed that blueprint with all his Fake News award winners, listing stories that that had to be corrected — and ultimately were — and one opinion column that had predicted the stock market would slide in a Trump presidency, when it has regularly hit new highs.
Online release of the winners briefly crashed the GOP web site that hosted it, and drew an immediate response from the Radio Television Digital News Association.
“Despite the president’s constant attacks on press freedom,” Dan Shelley, executive director of RTDNA, told B&C after Trump announced his effort to crown a king of disinformation, “newsrooms in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are serving the public every single day by uncovering corruption and shining a light on problems that would otherwise go unnoticed. Much of this responsible journalism serves as a catalyst for positive change.”
Said the Poynter Institute’s Daniel Funke, “Trump’s awards are newsworthy for their attack on the press, but cast further doubt on our collective capacity to discuss solutions to a specific form of misinformation, while further exacerbating the climate of confusion and distrust in journalism.”