Hurricane-ravaged residents of Puerto Rico are committing suicide, nearly 9 million children are at the verge of losing health insurance and the government is heading toward a shutdown, but instead of doing his job and dealing with these pressing issues, the president of the United States is busy attacking the media like a petulant child.
President Donald Trump, who has been criticizing reporters for painting him in an unflattering light since before taking office, recently tweeted a link to his highly anticipated “fake news award” winners — meant for news outlets and publications that have offended the self-confessed “stable genius” with their coverage of him — sans the red carpet.
And the FAKE NEWS winners are...https://t.co/59G6x2f7fD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
However, it didn’t go as smoothly as the commander-in-chief probably hoped.
The link in Trump’s tweet led to a page on the GOP website, but apparently, the site couldn’t deal with the sudden surge in traffic and went down almost immediately.
“The site is temporarily offline, we are working to bring it back up. Please try back later,” read a message on the website, while another said, “This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.”
And the winner is... pic.twitter.com/SAYiMpoGtF— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) January 18, 2018
**chef’s kiss** pic.twitter.com/0pkFUCa9oT— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 18, 2018
The Fake News awards have a hiccup pic.twitter.com/LZjxDTV3sg— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) January 18, 2018
You know what kind of website would adequately prepare for a massive influx of traffic for a highly anticipated story so it doesn’t crash?— Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) January 18, 2018
A news website.
The website eventually bounced back to life, displaying the list of “winners.”
“2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news,” it read. “Studies have shown that over 90% of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative.”
While it’s unclear what “studies” the Trump administration is referring to, the list of award recipients made one thing pretty clear: While the collection of stories listed on the website would be indeed considered big journalistic errors, in almost all instances, the news organizations issued corrections and acknowledged their mistake. In fact, in one instance, the individuals involved in the report — including a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter — were forced out of the organization.
A New York Times op-ed by Paul Krugman, which “claimed on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover,” won the first place — because apparently, the commander-in-chief doesn’t know the difference between opinion and a factual report.
The second place went to ABC News’ Brian Ross who supposedly sent “markets in a downward spiral with false report.”
The report, which later led to Ross’ suspension and the network to issue a full apology, said Trump had directed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russian operatives.
Meanwhile, the president’s least favorite network, CNN, won the trophy four times.
Here are the rest of the "winners" — with brief annotations.
3. "CNN FALSELY reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks."
It is important to note that CNN admitted its error and tried to set the record straight.
“The new details appear to show that the sender was relying on publicly available information,” the network said. “The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.”
4. "TIME FALSELY reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office."
In this case, the list is referring to a tweet, which was quickly corrected.
The Winston Churchill bust is back in the Oval Office— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 21, 2017
Correction: The MLK bust is still in the Oval Office. It was obscured by an agent and door.— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 21, 2017
5. "Washington Post FALSELY reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty. Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena HOURS before crowd started pouring in."
Yet again, the Trump administration is referring to a tweet, not a news report.
It was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for Washington Post. I deleted it after like 20 minutes. Very fair to call me out.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 9, 2017
Everything I say on Twitter is a joke, except what I say about @swin24. https://t.co/tI7SQnpoN9
6. "CNN FALSELY edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding."
The infamous koi pond video, which showed Trump dumping a whole box of fish food into the pond, was already making rounds on the internet. However, CNN did mention how “the move got Trump some laughs, and a smile from Abe, who actually appeared to dump out his box of food ahead of Trump.”
7. "CNN FALSELY reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a 'significant breakdown in process.'"
It was indeed a significant journalistic error, which led to the resignation of three staffers.
8. "Newsweek FALSELY reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake President Trump’s hand."
The publication did share the brief clip, which showed the Polish first lady bypassing the president to shake hands with first lady Melania Trump, but Newsweek also noted in its piece “The mildly awkward and humorously relatable exchange was just that, and no apparent swipe at the U.S. president.”
9. "CNN FALSELY reported that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim that he was told he is not under investigation."
The network got this story wrong as well, but also published a correction, acknowledging its mistake.
“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 wrote.
10. "The New York Times FALSELY claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report."
In this case, the report had been publicly available for months and the error was later acknowledged.
“[The report] was uploaded to a nonprofit internet digital library in January but received little attention until it was published by The New York Times,” the outlet claimed.
11. And last, but not least: "'RUSSIA COLLUSION!' Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION!"
To clarify, Trump did not single out one particular story to slam.
In addition to that, the probe into the alleged Russian interference in the presidential election is still ongoing.
The difference between Trump and the people behind any inaccuracies listed above? All of them immediately corrected their mistakes. Meanwhile, Trump lied 2,000 times his first year in office with nary an apology or admission.
Jokes apart, Trump’s repeated attacks on media, including these ridiculous and downright juvenile “Fake News Awards,” have a terrifying subtext. It’s not just an attack on the media, it’s an attack on freedom of speech and by extension the First Amendment — something Trump vowed to do even before the election.
Here’s what the internet had to say about the absurd awards.
The FACTS:— Brian Krassenstein🐬 (@krassenstein) January 18, 2018
- Number of "Fake News" Stories" Trump could find for his #FakeNewsAwards after a year of reporting: 8
- Number of these stories corrected by the press: 8
- Number of Trump Lies over last year: 1,593
- Number of Trump Lies which he corrected: 0
The #FakeNewsAwards is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen a president do. Not only is he attacking free press, he's trying to make a joke out of him doing so. These BS awards are tasteless, classless & dangerous. Trump proves once again he isn't fit for anything.— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 18, 2018
We laugh about the #FakeNewsAwards but it is in fact quite terrifying and chilling. This is what happens in dictatorships and fascist regimes. Facts, language, truth and ultimately the press become hijacked to serve power, not question it or hold it accountable.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) January 18, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque