News

August 21, 2017 - Updated on August 23, 2017

US — #WeeklyAddress August 14 – 20: Trump criticizes “Fake News” coverage of Charlottesville protests

Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of August 14 – 20:

US — #WeeklyAddress August 14 – 20: Trump criticizes “Fake News” coverage of Charlottesville protests


Trump criticizes media coverage of Charlottesville protests

In the week following a white supremacist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, President Trump condemned violence “on many sides” and equated the white supremacists with the “alt-left.” After Trump spoke to reporters on Monday, August 15, when CNN’s Jim Acosta asked if the reporters could ask him more questions Trump responded, “It doesn’t bother me at all. But I like real news, not fake news. You’re fake news.”

The following day, on August 16, Trump held another press conference and called out “fake news” for misrepresenting the protests. He said not all of the protesters in Charlottesville were neo-Nazis or white supremacists, and “you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not.” He tweeted the next day: “The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is. They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!”


Journalists of color threatened for reporting on Charlottesville, KKK

After Eboni Williams, host of Fox’s “The Specialists” and an African-American woman, called President Trump’s initial remarks in response to the Charlottesville protests “cowardly and dangerous” on Monday, August 14, she began receiving threatening messages calling her racist, anti-American, and some implying an intent to harm the journalist. In the days following her segment, Williams received so many alarming messages — more than 150 — that she requested and received a security escort from Fox News. “I felt utterly compelled in that moment, particularly as a black woman who works on Fox News Channel, and has the privilege and a responsibility to address an audience that otherwise doesn’t necessarily get my point of view, or the point of view of people like me,” Williams said.


When Ilia Calderón, a black and Latina journalist for Univision, interviewed a North Carolina KKK leader in a segment that aired Sunday, August 13, he called her the n-word and threatened to burn her off of his property. The KKK leader said Calderón was the first black person to ever step on his land. Though Calderón finished her interview without being harmed, she said she feared for her safety. “I represent the things that they hate: I am black, I am Hispanic, I am an immigrant,” said Calderón, who is a U.S. citizen and Colombian immigrant.


Journalist arrested for trespassing on public college campus

On Wednesday August 16, freelance journalist J.B. Nicholas was arrested and charged with trespassing on the campus of Bronx Community College (BCC), a public college, where he was reporting for The Gothamist on statues of confederate generals in the school’s “Hall of Fame.” The Gothamist is a website about New York City. Nicholas was conducting an interview when two police officers approached him. He turned his camera on and captured part of their interaction, during which the officers told him he had to leave because BCC “was not an open campus” and his reporting “is not official college business. Nichols was wearing his press credentials. After his video ended, Nicholas said the officers restrained him, handcuffed him, and issued him a summons for trespassing.


Defense Department cuts back on size of traveling press corps for Mattis’ trip abroad

A number of news outlets, including The Washington Post, were not permitted to join Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on his trip to Ukraine, Turkey and Jordan. The Washington Post national security reporter Dan Lamothe tweeted on Saturday, August 19 that The Post was “among several news outlets not invited” on the trip, adding in another tweet that the “[t]raveling press corps was cut down from long-held numbers in both GOP and Dem administrations.” Paul McCleary, national security and Pentagon reporter for Foreign Policy magazine, responded: "Several outlets were invited, completed visa paperwork, and then disinvited just this week. No convincing explanation why."


The United States ranks 43rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.


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