The best Trump protest signs https://t.co/puv2VCRs5n— serialtrash (@serialtrash) July 16, 2018
As United States President Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin arrived in Helsinki, Finland, for their historic meeting (just days after 12 Russians were indicted for interfering in U.S. elections in 2016), they were greeted by signs from a local news organization, lauding Finland’s deep respect for press freedoms.
Around 300 billboards were put up by the news organization Helsingin Sanomat. The billboards had different messages on them, but many alluded to Trump’s inappropriate criticisms of news coverage he’s received since becoming president.
A lot of the signs were in Finnish, but several were written in English as well, perhaps as a direct communication to the president about their message of respecting a free and democratic press.
“Mr. President, Welcome to the Land of Free Press,” read one sign.
Most of the other signs were simply headlines of Trump’s many criticisms of news coverage he’s received, meant to be seen as unacceptable attacks made against newspapers and other organizations that are tasked with reporting on his administration’s doings.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Finland is ranked fourth in the world for its dedication toward a free press. To put that in perspective, the U.S. is ranked 45th, and Russia is ranked 148th.
Trump makes frequent attacks against the press, calling unfavorable news coverage “fake news” and even threatening to change libel laws against the press simply for reporting on facts that land on their desk. Putin, meanwhile, is likely to have had journalists killed if their reporting goes outside of what he deems acceptable.
The critique by Helsingin Sanomat toward Trump and Putin is well-deserved. Both of these two leaders attack the free press in their respective countries, and while one does so in a more violent way than the other, both should be reprimanded for doing so.
A free press is necessary in any democracy for the people to make informed choices about their leaders. Sadly, it doesn't seem as if Trump is dedicated to preserving that ideal, as he himself disseminates false information on a regular basis and blasts news organizations for correcting him when he does.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque