WASHINGTON, D.C.—A controversial new Executive Order issued by the President of the United States is worrying journalists and advocates of free speech.
President Donald Trump has had a particularly adversarial relationship with the media beginning long before his presidency. During his campaign, Trump made many wild, outlandish, and often inaccurate claims. In response, the media criticized him heavily and searched for every opportunity to refute them; criticism which continues today.
Trump, who has seen his approval ratings dwindle to as low as 40%, is not concerned that these reports truly reflect his popularity with the American public.
“I’m doing what everyone wants,” he said. “All the negative news you hear about, it’s fake news.”
Now, President Trump has followed up with Executive Order 13779, which officially declares all negative publicity directed at him—or his administration—as “fake news.”
Under the new order, media organizations wishing to be critical of the White House may continue to do so, but must identify such criticisms as being falsified, regardless of whether or not they are actually false.
Any media organization broadcasting news must label such news as fake before delivering it. Television networks will be required to run ticker text across the bottom of the screen identifying the news as fake, while radio stations must announce that the news they are about to deliver will be fake before delivering it.
Print news will be required to identify such news in one of two ways: end the heading itself with the text (fake), or place an explanatory paragraph in a different typeface at the beginning of the article.
The restrictions also apply to online media sources—referred to in the executive order as “the cyber”—including web sites and podcasts. Web sites will follow the same protocol as print news, while podcasts will do as radio stations are required.
The order also applies to media that is satirical in nature. This requirement is intended to help Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who has had some difficulty in the past detecting content that is clearly and intentionally false. In January, Spicer re-tweeted a video with the text “You nailed it,” despite the video actually being critical of his performance.
In addition to news, new directives are in place for op-ed pieces and blogs.
Each paragraph that is critical of the president or the administration must begin with the text “In my opinion, which is wrong,” followed by the paragraph text itself, finally terminating with the one-word sentence “Sad!”
The American Civil Liberties Union—who has recently received over $24 million in donations—has announced that it is considering a lawsuit against the administration.
“This is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” said Susan Herman, President of the ACLU. “The press has the constitutional right to disseminate information in whatever manner they see fit. Nobody should have to alter their message or represent it as being less truthful than it is.”
The White House is denying that the freedom of the press will be at all restricted. Instead, it is offering to consider critical pieces to be published without the “fake” designation on an individual basis.
“This is not an attack on freedom of the press,” said Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. “We are holding the media responsible and making sure that the American people are not misled by the news. This will give us a chance to make sure the news reflects the reality we live in, and will allow us to provide some alternative facts so the people are receiving a balanced view.”
Examples of the application of the new order:
Before Order 13779 After Order 13779 Headline:
Trump signs executive order declaring all negative publicity toward White House “fake news”
Trump signs executive order declaring all negative publicity toward White House “fake news” (FAKE)
Excerpt from op-ed:
Trump’s ban on immigration from the targeted countries is unconstitutional.
Excerpt from op-ed:
My opinion, which is wrong, is that Trump’s ban on immigration from the targeted countries is unconstitutional. Sad!
At present, The Super Important does not intend to comply with the order as it is based outside of the United States.