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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Trump’s ugliest battle fires up as the media fights back

Trump has repeatedly labelled Fake News

Share on Facebook November 29, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 401

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Following a week of constant and renewed attacks on what the U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly labelled ‘Fake News’, CNN and other journalists are now fighting back. 

In what has become a permanent feature of the Trump tenure, the media-bashing continued last week, and Trump, in fact, said that all the networks, with one notable exception, are unfair to him.

On Monday, Trump took to Twitter and said, “We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favourite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

Continuing his constant drumbeat of “fake news,” Trump also tweeted, “@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!”

However, this time, instead of remaining silent over the repeated jabs, CNN’s public relations department responded, “It's not CNN's job to represent the U.S. to the world. That's yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst”

This week, CNN stars Blitzer, Cooper, Amanpour and others too have fired back at Trump, in what the media has labelled ‘a day of rage.’

Trump, who has earlier labelled the network “fake news,” “garbage journalism” and “the worst” even raked up a controversy when he tweeted a doctored video clip from his appearance at a WWE wrestling event in 2007.

The clip that first appeared on Reddit is an altered version of Trump's appearance at the wrestling event, in which he "attacked" franchise owner Vince McMahon in a scripted appearance.

The altered version that Trump tweeted showed him body-slamming someone with the CNN logo superimposed on their face.

After Trump’s tweet, CNN accused the president of inciting violence against the media.

The network said that the president was displaying “juvenile behaviour far below the dignity of his office.”

In a statement, CNN said, “We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”

That, however, didn’t stop the President.

He has retweeted and then deleted an image of a Trump train running over a CNN reporter.

However, while CNN has most often remained silent about the criticism, the network seemed to have been especially aggravated by Trump’s most recent attack.

The recent attacks by the President prompted what appeared to be an organized response from some of its most prominent journalists, including Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Christiane Amanpour and Brooke Baldwin.

On Monday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper said that the criticism is “frankly something that we’ve come to expect” at CNN.

Journalists pointed out that Trump’s recent attack on CNN International is sending a signal to other countries that could jeopardize CNN foreign correspondents who must operate in hostile territory.

Trump’s apparent assault on the work of CNN International correspondents abroad marked a breaking point for many CNN journalists - who reportedly said that Trump’s words undermined and threatened the work of colleagues in the field risking their lives amid war zones, natural disasters and other dangerous environments to report the truth.

On Monday, the network even dedicated significant airtime to rebuking Trump.

Cooper said, “We have thick skin here at CNN. We can handle criticism but we’ll damn sure call it out when it’s a lie.”

He added, “His assault against a free press, a free press that stands up to him, will not stop us or any other legitimate news organization. It won’t stop my colleagues around the world who put their lives on the line to do their work, to report.”

He went on to spotlight the work of veteran international correspondents Ben Wedeman, one of the first western journalists inside Libya covering the removal of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, and Arwa Damon, whose group was under siege in Mosul, Iraq for more than 28 hours in November 2016.

Even anchor Wolf Blitzer, in his Monday broadcast, introduced a nearly five-minute montage of clips showing CNN correspondents covering war and strife in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Niger, Libya and the Philippines.

Blitzer said, “The relentless pursuit of the truth and the outright rejection of any attack against it is something we still hold sacred, always will. No matter how many insults or blatant assaults on the press and its freedom, this pursuit is something for which we will never bend nor break. Even the loudest critics can’t silence the facts.”

He added, “CNN and CNN International are not sponsored by any state, nor any autocrat, or any political organization, and despite the constant criticism from the president, we are unwavering in our mission, free and independent as the press should be.”

A segment moderated by host Brooke Baldwin, Wedeman and fellow senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward further spoke of the threats presented by Trump’s tweet.

Ward said that beyond being “disheartening,” Trump’s assault “emboldens” people in foreign countries who may already show hostility toward western journalists. 

She added that what may come across as a joke in the U.S. could be life-threatening to reporters in the field.

Ward added, “It sends a message very clearly that even our own president is volubly and publicly disparaging us. It’s open season on journalists.”

Wedemen meanwhile spoke of a photo he shared on Twitter showing his bloody face after he was struck by a rubber bullet while reporting on clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the summer of 2014.

Wedeman said that in 2000, he was hospitalized for months after being twice shot in the back while reporting in the Gaza strip. 

Adding that four years later, also in the Gaza strip, he was stopped by gunmen who kidnapped his team’s producer.

Wedeman said, “This is a dangerous job. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I believe in the importance of the work... I would beg the president… to understand just how dangerous this job is.”

Wedeman added that he has reported in countries in the Middle East where regimes are hostile toward American journalists and have set out to harm or threaten them.

Wedeman said that in the past “they were always hesitant to really unleash some of the brutal force they had behind them because they knew that the power of the United States was behind us, that the president of the United States supported the American media.”

Wedeman pointed out that now it appears that the president’s support is conditional, that “if we report in a way that the president of the United States does not like, he doesn’t have our back … I worry about that.”

 

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