President Donald Trump promised to hand out “fake News awards” for the “most corrupt and biased” media on Wednesday. The White House has been light on the details, but the event has drawn both criticism and ridicule.
“The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!” Trump tweeted on January 7.
The White House has yet to release details on who the nominees are, where the ceremony will happen or what kinds of awards will be handed out by the president.
The president’s support base shares his view that the media is waging a partisan battle against the administration, but the prospect of the awards has fueled criticism from Republicans like Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake over Trump’s adversarial treatment of the media.
Arizona Senator John McCain wrote a Washington Post op-ed, mentioning efforts against the White House press corp in the context of press-stifling efforts worldwide.
“Reporters around the world face intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, persecution and sometimes even death as governments resort to brutal censorship to silence the truth,” McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote in his op-ed, published Tuesday night.
Senator McCain cited statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists that 262 reporters were jailed last year over their work, making 2017 one of the most dangerous years on records for journalists worldwide. McCain also noted that 21 reporters were imprisoned last year on charges of “fake news” - the phrase frequently used by Trump to dispute reporting critical of his administration.
On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake discussed pre-released segments of a speech he is due to give on Wednesday in which he will criticize the Trump administration. In an interview on MSNBC, Flake said Trump’s hostility to the media as an “enemy of the people” was a phrase “infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.”
Flake said Trump’s attack on the news media damaged the country’s standing in the world and empowered dictators everywhere.
Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Flake said: “It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle.”
On Tuesday night, US comedians used the prospect of the awards to ridicule the president.
On NBC, late-night host Jimmy Fallon staged a scene “live from the Trump Hotel” in the US capital for The Fake News Awards, hosted by Fallon dressed as the president.
Fallon’s Trump announced the recipient of his custom statuettes, which resembled an Oscar trophy with the president’s head
“Covered in real fake gold and made in ‘Gina’” the mock Trump announced while holding the award. “My first fakey is for the fakest news network. And the nominee is CNN, and the winner is, who would have seen this coming...CNN.”
Over on CBS, Stephen Colbert decided he wanted to present “even fakier awards than President Trump has awarded himself.”
Honors included “the greatest jobs president that God ever created” and “the best thing that ever happened to the Secret Service.”