US falls again in Press Freedom; largely credited to Trump

(TFC) – The United States has again dropped in the Press Freedom index. The US is now ranked 45th. That’s below Chile, Namibia, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.

A Reporters Without Borders (RSF) statement pulled no punches, saying:

“More and more democratically elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion.”

It continued.

 “A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as ‘enemies of the people,’ the term once used by (former Soviet leader) Joseph Stalin.”

The summary under the US entry on the RSF website outlines the reasons for the dismal rating.

US press freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has been under increasing attack over the past few years, and the first year of President Donald J. Trump’s presidency has fostered further decline in journalists’ right to report. He has declared the press an “enemy of the American people” in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempted to block White House access to multiple media outlets, and routinely uses the term “fake news” in retaliation for critical reporting. He has even called for revoking certain media outlets’ broadcasting licenses. The violent anti-press rhetoric from the highest level of the US government has been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at the local level as journalists run the risk of arrest for covering protests or simply attempting to ask public officials questions. Reporters have even been subject to physical assault while on the job. It appears the Trump effect has only amplified the disappointing press freedom climate that predated his presidency. Whistleblowers face prosecution under the Espionage Act if they leak information of public interest to the press, while there is still no federal “shield law” guaranteeing reporters’ right to protect their sources. Journalists and their devices continue to be searched at the US border, while some foreign journalists are still denied entry into the US after covering sensitive topics like Colombia’s FARC or Kurdistan.

The top ten countries are Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Jamaica, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark, and Costa Rica.

As freedom of the press declines in the United States and more and more outlets are controlled by fewer and fewer corporate entities with ties to political powerhouses, the average American must begin to accept news they don’t like without calling it “fake news” simply on the basis of it contradicting their preconceived worldview.