Last night, after weeks of anticipation and hate speech, Donald Trump finally announced the “winners” of his Most Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards. If you know anything about Donald Trump, you understand just how important these awards are to him. He’s like Meryl Streep at the Oscars. This is his night.
And the FAKE NEWS winners are…https://t.co/59G6x2f7fD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Despite postponing the awards after originally saying they would be on January 8 at 5 p.m. (sounds like FAKE NEWS, Mr. President), Trump delivered on the rain date with a full list of winners. We all got a little worried after five o’clock came and went that he was postponing them again, but he released the list at 8 p.m. instead. You can’t rush greatness, we guess.
It’s 5:00pm. Do you know where your fake awards are?
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) January 17, 2018
And cue the madness. Those of us who get DJT tweet notifications (cough) all broke our phone screens clicking that link and, oops, got a message that said “the site is temporarily offline.” Did Donald Trump just troll the entire world? Was this whole thing an ironic fake news stunt? Nope, he just didn’t plan for that level of traffic and the site crashed. You know who would have planned for increased traffic if they were dropping a huge story? A real news outlet.
Wow we’ve been owned pic.twitter.com/kcb8kqltWe
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) 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?
A news website.
— Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) January 18, 2018
LIVE FROM THE FAKE NEWS AWARDS: pic.twitter.com/IAfyxFQANU
— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) January 18, 2018
After a little while, the GOP got their website back up and running so they could hand awards out to those shady, corrupt, dishonest journalists and news outlets. Trump’s awards were basically the Top Ten Times The News Made a Mistake that Made the President Look Bad. The list features flubs from all those FAILING news outlets like The New York Times, CNN (several times), Time, ABC News and The Washington Post. There was also a lot of UNNECESSARY CAPITALIZATION used for EMPHASIS. The page concludes with a list of “the truth” (i.e. Donald Trump being the best president in American history).
While we all had a good laugh at the awards, everyone’s reaction to them and the fact that they happened at all, they are also one of scarier things Donald Trump has done during his presidency. Mainly because it comes dangerously close to a little something called AUTHORITARIANISM. (Yes, that is a completely warranted use of capitalization).
Worth nothing that most of the 11 recipients of the Fake News Awards issued corrections or faced consequences for inaccurate reporting. That’s how journalism works.https://t.co/ZcLZ0pxd7i
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) January 18, 2018
Turns out Republicans/Trump confused honest mistakes that real media organizations admit to, correct, and remediate w/ fake news (i.e., the frequent stories that State Media and Trump admin just make up).
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) January 18, 2018
First of all, the true meaning of “fake news” would be false information published knowingly with the intent to mislead. All of the instances on Trump’s list are stories that were thought to be true but turned out to be false and were accompanied by retractions and corrections. Some of them were even based on false information straight from the White House. There is an important distinction to be made between media mistakes and actual fake news. Trump does not make that distinction.
So he lives his life in extremes, it’s annoying but not hugely problematic, right? Wrong. Stunts like this are created to discredit the free press. If you have a leader saying enough times that certain publications are “fake,” it erodes the public’s trust in them. Discrediting the free press and establishing oneself as the only source of real truth is one of the first things that authoritarian leaders do to overtake a population. The press has a crucial function in a democracy; they keep a check on authority by holding them to task for what they do, fact-checking what they say and pressing them on policy and ideology. By calling networks and publications that are doing that work “fake,” Trump is that much closer to making the things he says the final word. Read George Orwell’s 1984 if you want to know where that leads.
In a world where the press can’t be trusted (according to the president), the president is in the position to create reality — or what he wants us all to believe is reality. That’s worst case scenario, but last night’s awards prove that we are way closer to that than we might want to believe.
Stay vigilant out there, friends. In the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Don’t let the fake president get you down or tell you what’s real.
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) January 18, 2018