Trump unveils ‘Fake News Awards’ despite criticism

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Republican criticism fails to halt US President's list targeting mainstream media

WASHINGTON: United States President Donald Trump unveiled the winners of his much-touted "Fake News Awards" late on Wednesday, hours after a maverick senator from the President's own Republican party accused him of employing Stalinist language to "slur" and undermine the free press.

Arizona lawmaker Jeff Flake levelled the broadside from the Senate floor earlier in the day, after veteran Republican John McCain wrote an op-ed assailing Mr Trump's spoof awards.

Mr Trump announced his top-ten list - which included his regular targets CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post - via Twitter, linking to a list published on the Republican Party's website, which crashed minutes after.

Mr Flake slammed what he called Mr Trump's dangerous disregard for the truth and designation of the mainstream news media as an "enemy of the people".

"Mr President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies," said Mr Flake, who is an outspoken critic of Mr Trump, and who is not seeking re-election this year.

"When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that does not suit him 'fake news', it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.

"2017 was a year which saw the truth - objective, empirical, evidence-based truth - more battered and abused than any time in the history of our country, at the hands of the biggest figure in our government."

Of the "awards", Mr Flake had said "it beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle yet here we are" and urged his fellow lawmakers to take a stand in support of the press.

At loggerheads with much of the US news media since his election, Mr Trump finally doled out his "Fake News Awards" after weeks of speculation, recognising what he had called "the most corrupt and biased of the mainstream media".

Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman, who writes a regular opinion column - not news articles - for The New York Times, took the No. 1 spot.

The administration said he merited the award for writing "on the day of President Trump's historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover". - AFP