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In impassioned defense of press freedom, Christiane Amanpour condemns Trump’s treatment of journalists

By WITW Staff on November 23, 2016

After being honored for her work advancing the cause of press freedom with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award on Tuesday, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour began her acceptance speech with a dire admission: “I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home,” Amanpour said.

The source of her concern? A president-elect that has called reporters covering him “scum,” banned specific reporters and even entire publications from covering his events, and suggested that he would “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue media companies over unfavorable coverage.

“I was chilled when the first tweet after the election was about ‘professional protesters incited by the media,'” Amanpour continued. “As all the international journalists we honor in this room tonight and every year know only too well: First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating — until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives.”

Leading into Trump’s election, Amanpour noted, was the recent emergence of a “tsunami of fake news sites.”

“One of the main writers of these false articles — these lies — says people are getting dumber, just passing fake reports around without fact checking,” Amanpour said. The propagation and popular sharing of reports from these sites, she warned, represented a threat to the integrity of journalism. Post-election, Trump has defended such sites and claimed that it is in fact the mainstream networks who are “dishonest.”

In the end, she concluded, reporters must “recommit to robust fact-based reporting without fear or favor.” Her appeal, she said, was one “to protect journalism itself.”

Watch video of Amanpour’s speech below.

Read Amanpour’s full speech at the Committee to Protect Journalists.


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