GUEST BLOG / By John M. Donnelly, National Press Club, Washington DC.
The National Press Club raised concerns recentl about President-elect Donald Trump's continual use of the phrase “fake news” to criticize news stories that he disagrees with or that displease him. In his Jan. 11 press conference, Trump refused to field questions from certain reporters, accusing one journalist of working for a "terrible" organization and referring to an outlet represented by reporters at the event as "fake news."
Outgoing National Press Club President Thomas Burr issued the following statement:
“With the proliferation of false news stories dotting the Internet, it is important for American leaders to discern the difference and not intentionally conflate misleading and fake stories from dogged and investigative news that is fundamental to our country.
“It is dangerous and unhealthy to declare a news item as 'fake news' to distract from facts that you may not like or don't favor your perspective. Our incoming president must treat the news media as the vital cornerstone of our democracy that it is. To label something as 'fake' in an effort to undermine news outlets endangers the trust granted journalists by the public and is antithetical to our country's values.
“To be sure, news organizations make honest mistakes and when they learn they've done so, they correct them. That is entirely different from web sites that deliberately disseminate false information. The president-elect appears to be conflating the two in an attempt to discredit news organizations whose coverage displeases him. Doing so may foment a dangerous disrespect for journalists who, however flawed, are merely doing their best to inform the public. Presidents shouldn't get to pick and choose which reporters' questions they will answer based on what news outlet for which they work. Doing so now is inappropriate and will do unprecedented damage to our democracy.”
The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.