President Donald Trump criticized CNN International on Twitter on Nov. 25, 2017, calling the network “fake news” and accusing it of misrepresenting the United States to the world. CNN's PR team quickly replied to the tweet.
It's not CNN's job to represent the U.S to the world. That's yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst 🍎— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 25, 2017
Two days later, CNN’s PR team tweeted praise for the network’s foreign correspondents. The tweet noted that reporters working abroad face enormous risks while doing their jobs and included a compilation of clips depicting CNN and CNN International journalists reporting in dangerous situations around the world.
For nearly four decades, @CNN has been a constant here in the United States and around the world. Our journalists, in front of and behind the camera, risk their lives in the most dangerous of places, every day, so you know the truth. #FactsFirst 🍎https://t.co/tFIGl34ZzI— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 27, 2017
Overseas reporting is inherently dangerous, and journalists have been arrested, imprisoned, and killed for reporting in countries that lack strong press freedom guarantees. While news organizations within the United States are protected by domestic legislation and the First Amendment, American news organizations working abroad rely on the influence of entities such as the White House to cover news uninhibited.
Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Politico that Trump’s suggestion that CNN International was “fake news” could provide an excuse for foreign countries to clamp down on journalists’ rights. (CPJ is a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.)
“To the extent that sentiment echoes the views of authoritarian leaders, it empowers them,” he said. “That authoritarian leaders who have policies that undermine and restrict press freedom don’t feel that their actions potentially undermine their relationships to the United States — that’s an important point of leverage that no longer exists.”