Critic's Notebook: Everyone Loses at Trump's "Fake News Awards"
A stunt from a president who thinks his own opinions are facts.
For a while, it looked like Donald Trump's much ballyhooed "Fake News Awards" were going to be fake news.
First, they were delayed by more than a week, which is understandable. The president is a busy man, what with all the insults to be tweeted and expletives to be uttered. On the rescheduled day, the world breathlessly awaited as the hours ticked away with no announcement. Finally, long after dinnertime on the East Coast, Trump triumphantly tweeted the results.
Not that anyone could read them, because the GOP website he linked to had crashed. Awkward!
The awards, which became accessible an hour later, did prove one thing. Unlike with the Oscars, campaigning doesn't help. Case in point: Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah, who shamelessly took out "For Your Consideration" ads, only to be totally shut out. Sorry, guys, better luck next time. You're just not trying hard enough.
The big winner, it turns out, was The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, for predicting that the economy would crater after Trump was elected. The fact that Krugman was writing an opinion, not news, piece was apparently lost on Trump. But that's not surprising considering that the president thinks of his own opinions as facts.
Trump was on safer ground with his No. 2 pick, ABC News' Brian Ross, who definitely made a mistake when he falsely reported that Trump had asked Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russians before the election when it actually happened afterward. The inaccurate story briefly caused the stock market to tumble, leading Trump to thoughtfully suggest that people sue the network to regain their losses. ABC issued an apology and suspended Ross for a month. That, of course, didn't matter to Trump, who has apologized only once in his life, for his remarks in the Access Hollywood tape. Which he later claimed was doctored.
CNN racked up the first of its four — count 'em, four — fake news awards, with its report that Donald Trump Jr. had been given access to leaked documents by WikiLeaks. It's hard to imagine why that should have bothered Trump, who during his campaign declared, "I love WikiLeaks!" His love is apparently unrequited, since shortly after the awards came online, WikiLeaks tweeted, "The Trump administration is a frequent source of false information."
Trump targeted Time for falsely reporting that he had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. The reporter apologized for the mistake, but the damage was done, as Trump probably lost the support of the man he called "My African-American" at one of his rallies.
The Washington Post got slammed for a picture showing rows of empty seats at a Trump rally. The pic, which had actually been shot hours before the rally began, had been released as a personal tweet by the reporter, not as a news story. The reporter quickly removed the tweet and apologized. But, let's face it, if tweets are considered qualifying, then Trump belongs in the "Fake News" Hall of Fame.
Nos. 6 and 7 went to CNN again, as other news outlets were starting to get really jealous. One was for a video making it look like Trump had "defiantly overfed fish" during his visit to Japan. Now, I've been having some fun with these awards, but this truly is totally unfair to Trump. The second was for CNN's story about Anthony Scaramucci's ties to a Russian investment fund. The story was retracted and three journalists were forced to resign. Mr. President, take a lesson here.
Newsweek got an award for its report that Polish first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda didn't shake Trump's hand. Oh, the horror…
Those award hogs at CNN racked up yet another one for mistakenly reporting that James Comey would dispute Trump's claim that Trump was told he was not under investigation in the Russia probe. Yeah, that was bad. I would issue a correction on behalf of the network except, oh, yes, CNN already has.
The New York Times finally showed up again (I was beginning to worry) for its story that "the Trump administration had hidden a climate report." That wasn't true. On the other hand, it's not like Trump's people were actually telling anyone to read it.
As with so many Top 10 lists, this one cheated. No. 11 went to no news organization in particular, but rather the hoax of "RUSSIA COLLUSION!" "THERE IS NO COLLUSION!" we were breathlessly reminded for maybe the millionth time. Trump seems to think that if he keeps repeating it enough, people will believe him. Sadly, he may be right about that.
Like a lover who's just broken up with you, Trump took pains to assuage the media's feelings. He followed up his Fake News Awards with another tweet saying, "Despite some very corrupt and dishonest media coverage, there are many great reporters I respect and lots of GOOD NEWS for the American people to be proud of!"