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Former British prime minister: Trump attacks on press are ‘dangerous’

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Olivia Beavers

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday warned that President Trump’s frequent attacks against the press are “dangerous” for the nation’s democracy.

“When Donald Trump uses the term ‘fake news’ to describe CNN and the BBC, that is not just a questionable political tactic — it’s actually dangerous,” Cameron said at the Transparency International UK’s annual lecture in London, according to a transcript of the talk.

“Of course broadcasters make mistakes and it’s right they correct them. But what is being attempted here goes far beyond that: It’s an attempt to question the whole legitimacy of organizations that have an important role in our democracy,” he continued.

In his talk, Cameron shared a warning call about the consequences of undermining the credibility of the press.

He argued that the president’s attacks on the media deflect “attention from real abuses” by creating an opening for “propaganda” and “misinformation” to flow in and Russian bots to echo the attack. This, he said, poses the risk of drowning out the reporters who are “genuinely” reporting and keeping their government in check.

“In its stead — thanks to the growth of technology and the increasing domination of social media — propaganda, misinformation and ‘fake news’ are better able to get a foothold. There’s the danger that will then squeeze out the genuine scrutineers and drown out the genuine reporting — some of it at the behest of those foreign governments I’ve just talked about,” he said at the event.

President Trump: ‘fake news’ is not broadcasters criticizing you, it’s Russian bots and trolls targeting your democracy pumping out untrue stories day after day, night after night,” he continued, adding that such social media efforts are “facilitating a form of corruption that is undermining democracy.”

Cameron also praised Trump’s predecessor, former President Obama, for pushing other European leaders to pay attention to Russian attempts to undermine or infiltrate communities within Democratic states.

Barack Obama used to challenge European leaders over how we seemed to ignore or even tolerate Russian subversion of some Eastern European business, energy, media or even political interests. He was bang on target,” he said.

Source: The Guardian

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