President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media are having repercussions around the world.
For instance, People’s Daily, China — a publication run by the Chinese state — ran an op-ed piece using Trump’s refrain of “fake news” to question “western media” in its entirety.
“His dislike and distrust of the US media raises questions about the fairness of Western media reports,” the op-ed read. “In describing his distaste for the media, Trump has repeatedly used the phrase ‘FAKE NEWS’ online and also in numerous speeches and interviews. If a sitting US president argues that his nation’s leading media outlets are essentially fake news machines, then it is logical to assume that at least some of the outlets have political agendas.”
In other words, when Trump refers to reports he doesn’t like as “fake news” and threatens global media organizations — even when they run corrections for errors — he is doing a disservice to truth. And in threatening the free press in the U.S., he threatens the pursuit of truth by the press in countries all over the world.
Very little discussion of all the purposely false and defamatory stories put out this week by the Fake News Media. They are out of control – correct reporting means nothing to them. Major lies written, then forced to be withdrawn after they are exposed…a stain on America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2017
“In fact, the problem of fake news is nothing new to China,” the state-run publication’s op-ed noted. “For years, China has long been on the receiving end of Western media bias. Rather than focus on China’s achievements in poverty alleviation and human rights or the benefits of stronger China-US relations for instance, China is often cast in a negative light and frequently attacked in the Western media. In addition, reports by official media are often dismissed as ‘propaganda’ in order to discredit them.”
The piece tries to preempt criticism from the Chinese government — which the UN regards as authoritarian and behind many human rights violations — by dismissing the notion that the Chinese Communist Party’s tight grip on information distribution in the country could be seen as propaganda.
The piece notes explicitly how Trump’s recent bullying on Twitter of the media benefits authoritarian and repressive regimes:
“If the President of the United States claims that his nation’s leading media outlets are a stain on America, then negative news about China and other countries should be taken with a grain of salt since it is likely that bias and political agendas are distorting the real picture.”