The New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has scooped Donald Trump’s fake news awards, which also saw the President’s other ‘fake news’ favourites, The Washington Post and CNN take home accolades.
A US Senator compared the awards to the behaviour of dictator Joseph Stalin and accused him of inspiring modern-day authoritarians.
CNN was the overall winner, taking home 4 of 10 awards, but as many publications noted, most of the stories the President cited had been quickly corrected and some had even led to resignations.
Others weren’t stories at all - they were tweets - and one was an opinion piece.
Announcing what he called “the highly-anticipated awards”, Trump said that “2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news”, adding that “studies have shown that over 90% of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative”.
He said the winners could be found on the Republican National Committee website, but the link was broken for 90 minutes.
The winners of Trump’s 2017 Fake News Awards were:
1) New York Times’ Columnist Paul Krugman
In November, on the day the President claimed a historic victory, the columnist claimed that the economy would never recover.
In response The New York Times explained: “What Krugman actually wrote was this: ‘If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.’
“Krugman concluded his election night take by predicting that a global recession was likely, while adding the caveat, ‘I suppose we could get lucky somehow’.”
The Washington Post noted of the article’s inclusion in the awards: “It’s a bit odd to feature an opinion as fake news when it’s not really news, just opinion”.
2) ABC News’ Brian Ross
Trump said the reporter: “Chokes and sends markets in a downward spiral with false report”.
Ross misreported a timeline detail after the guilty plea of former FBI director Michael Flynn, writing that he was directed to contact Russian officials when Trump was a candidate, instead of president-elect.
To illustrate this award, Trump used a headline from Fox News.
The broadcaster, Trump said, “falsely reported that he and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks”.
It later transpired that the sender of the email in question was notifying the Trumps of already public documents.
“The new details appear to show that the sender was relying on publicly available information,” CNN admitted at the time. “The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.”
Again, Trump used a report from Fox News to illustrate his awards decision.
Trump said the magazine “falsely” reported he removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.
The Washington Post noted that the award was in reference to a tweet by a reporter, that was later corrected. It questioned how a tweet was news.
5) Washington Post
Trump says the newspaper “falsely reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty”.
He added: “Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena hours before crowd started pouring in”.
The report, was in fact a tweet by reporter Dave Weigel, who later apologised.
6) CNN fish feeding
CNN picked up its second award for “editing a video to to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister”. The story was widely covered, with the video in full.
Trump clarified: “Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding.”
7) CNN - Award 3
Trump says of this award: “CNN falsely reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a significant breakdown in process.”
The story led to three CNN employees resigning.
The publication, Trump said, “falsely reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake his hand”.
While Lady Agata, as other media noted, appeared to ignore Trump’s first attempt at shaking her hand - by shaking Melania Trump’s hand instead - she did, however, then return to Trump and complete the gesture.
9) CNN - Award 4
Trump said the network “falsely” reported that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute his claim that he was told he is not under investigation.
CNN later issued a correction saying: “The article and headline have been corrected to reflect that Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation in his prepared testimony released after this story was published.”
CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, responded to CNN’s victory at the awards with dismissive wit.
10) The New York Times
Trump said: “The New York Times falsely claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report.”
At the time the Post called its competitors story a “large screw up”, which Trump happily mentioned in his awards.
11) No Winner - Just A Statement
“And last, but not least: ‘Russia collusion!’ Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. There is no collusion.
An investigation into this is ongoing.
Whilst some commentators mocked Trump’s awards, other pointed out the serious implications of hosting such an event
Republican US Senator Jeff Flake castigated Trump for his attacks on the media, saying the President had embraced the despotic language of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and inspired modern-day authoritarians.
Flake said Trump’s portrayal of the press as “the enemy of the people” and repeated White House references to “fake news” and “alternative facts” had spurred copycats such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until he died in 1953, used the phrase “enemy of the people” to describe those he wanted annihilated.
Trump’s use of the phrase “should be a source of great shame,” Flake said.
Flake, 55, an Arizona conservative who has frequently feuded with Trump, described himself in October as out of step with his party and said he would not seek re-election. His term ends in January 2019.
Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians. ... This is reprehensible." Republican US Senator Jeff Flake on Trump
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, responding to Flake’s speech, said the senator was an attention-seeker. “He’s not criticising the president because he’s against oppression,” Sanders said at a White House briefing. “He’s criticising the president because he has terrible poll numbers and he is, I think, looking for some attention.”
Trump’s attacks on the media in response to critical stories about him have been a staple of his Twitter feed and he tweeted in February 2017 that “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!”
That same month, Assad was quoted as dismissing charges of human rights violations at a military prison as “fake news.” In the Philippines, Duterte lashed out on Tuesday at a “fake news outlet” known for challenging his government.
Noting Trump had said he will give out awards for “the most corrupt and dishonest” media, Flake said: “It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle.”
The other Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain, aimed similar criticism at Trump on Wednesday in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.
“Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and newsoutlets,” wrote McCain, who is fighting aggressive brain cancer. “This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit.”
In his clashes with Trump, Flake has called his behavior sometimes “reckless, outrageous and undignified” and criticised the president in a book that made the New York Times best-seller list last year.
On Twitter, Trump has referred to the senator as “Flake(y)” and said Flake dropped his re-election bid because he was doomed to lose. He also has called Flake ineffective, “toxic” and weak on issues such as crime and border security.