Donald Trump’s assault on the free press, and thus the First Amendment, reached its anti-climax with his 2017 Fake News Awards on Wednesday. For a man who launched his political career with the racist birther lie, and who had at last count told over 2,000 lies in his first year as president, it was supposed to be yet another chance to bathe in pettiness and vengeance. Instead, the website crashed for an hour and then revealed a bunch of stories the accused media outlets had already corrected. Because that’s how the profession of journalism necessarily works.
Trump’s dumb, propagandistic grandstanding is meant to undermine and discredit an institution that, in the absence of any other obvious checks on his power right now, is desperately needed. In recognition of that fact, it seems worthwhile to hand out another set of awards to the press, in honor of things done right.
Here are the winners of AlterNet’s Real News Media Awards, which expose Donald Trump as the horrible person and terrible leader he is.
1. Forbes: Trump Redirected Charity Money for Sick Kids to His Own Pockets
In late 2016, the Daily Beast reported the "Eric Trump Foundation [paid] hundreds of thousands over the last 10 years to host lavish fundraising events at Donald Trump’s golf courses.” A few months later, Forbes waded even further into the deep end and found that the Trump Organization had collected more than $1.2 million from a handful of charities, including Eric Trump’s. The analysis also uncovered that the Donald J. Trump Organization—which has a recorded history of shady dealings—"used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.” What’s more, people who donated to the Eric Trump Foundation expecting those funds would go to kids with cancer couldn’t have known that “$500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.” Withholding money from terminally ill children is actually an activity the elder Trump regularly engages in.
2. New York Times: Trump Is Racist on an International Scale, Too
In a meeting focusing on the number of immigrants who had been given visas for travel to the U.S., Trump stated that “all [Haitians] have AIDS,” and complained that 40,000 Nigerians would not “go back to their huts” once they had entered the United States. The Times based its report on the accounts of six officials who were in the room at the time or were later briefed on the meeting.
3. Washington Post: Trump Calls Black Countries Sh*tholes, White Countries Good
The White House officially denied Trump’s repugnant comments about Haitians and Nigerians, but forgot it was speaking on behalf of an endless fount of racism that would double down on those remarks at the first opportunity. A few weeks after the Times report, the Post spoke with several attendees of a White House meeting about U.S. immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.
“Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?” Trump asked the room. “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He went on to suggest the U.S. should try to recruit people from super-white Norway, because he thinks the whiter the person, the more awesome they are, and that brown skin is an automatic disqualifier for being an authentic American.
The quote jibed with Trump’s campaign trail descriptions of black American communities as hellscapes of poverty, with “schools [that] are no good,” and “no jobs.” You know, sh*tholes. By contrast, Trump believes neighborhoods full of white people struggling with the same issues, along with startling amounts of drug abuse and increasing death rates, are just real America.
Later, Eric Trump tried to suggest his extra-racist father couldn’t be racist because his pathological greed overrides his bigotry, saying his dad “sees one color: green.” Which is weird, since Trump definitely saw different colors when he refused to rent apartments to black and Latino people in the 1970s.
4. NBC News: Trump Thinks Asian People Should Do Asian People Jobs
A “career intelligence analyst” and “hostage policy” expert briefed Trump on a situation involving a family being held in Pakistan. (Presumably, she used picture books and spoke slowly.) Instead of following up with questions about the intelligence he’d just been given, Trump suggested she take a job he found more racially suitable.
"Where are you from?" the president asked, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the exchange.
New York, she replied.
Trump was unsatisfied and asked again, the officials said. Referring to the president's hometown, she offered that she, too, was from Manhattan. But that's not what the president was after.
He wanted to know where "your people" are from, according to the officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity due to the nature of the internal discussions.
After the analyst revealed that her parents are Korean, Trump turned to an adviser in the room and seemed to suggest her ethnicity should determine her career path, asking why the "pretty Korean lady" isn't negotiating with North Korea on his administration's behalf, the officials said.
The same NBC report noted that Trump was ignorant of the fact that 40 percent of welfare recipients are white.
5. New York Times: Trump Is a Terrible Father
Sure, on its face the story was that Don Jr. met with a Russian lawyer, and in a later Times development, that the campaign had been seeking damaging intel on Hillary Clinton. In between those two revelations, it also came to light that Trump wrote a statement of easily disproven lies on Don Jr.’s behalf. Those headlines aside, isn’t the entire situation deeply telling about what kind of dad Trump is? Both common sense and Steve Bannon suggest Trump had full knowledge his son was taking part in a meeting that, if exposed, would be highly controversial, at minimum. Even if you believe Trump was unaware of the meeting at the time (a convenient story that lets Don Jr. take the fall, for now anyway), what could possibly motivate him to craft a false statement, requiring his son to lie, that could later be used to prove obstruction of justice? Why put your son in a position where he might be subject to possible prosecution? In short, what kind of person gets his kid mixed up in this kind of thing to sate his endless pursuit of—what? Power? Wealth? Answer: Mob bosses, hamfisted caricatures of mob bosses from the movies, and Donald Trump.
6. CNN: Video Proof That Trump Went Golfing While Puerto Rico Suffered
This was an ongoing story, really. Weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Trump went golfing as the island’s leaders begged for aid. Months later, tens of thousands remained without water or electricity. The New York Times reported that while the storm had killed just over 60 people, the administration’s appalling response had contributed to a death toll closer to 1,050. But none of this mattered to Trump, who declared he would get “back to work” after Christmas, and then proceeded to golf for seven days straight. CNN was able to catch video of Trump in action the first day, but in the days after, a strategically placed truck attempted to block the camera’s view.
7. New York Times: Trump Thought Being President Was Like Being King...or Mafia Don
This gem about Trump’s delusional take on how his job as president might look is buried in a pretty amazing Times portrait of the inner workings of the Trump presidency, informed by “60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress."
Trump’s difficult adjustment to the presidency, people close to him say, is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of its powers, which he had assumed to be more akin to the popular image of imperial command than the sloppy reality of having to coexist with two other branches of government...Trump expected being president would [entail] ruling by fiat, exacting tribute and cutting back room deals.
8. WTVJ NBC 6: Trump Told a Gold Star Widow Her Husband’s Death Was to Be Expected
Trump made what was supposed to be a condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldiers killed in a U.S. combat mission in Niger. According to those present with Johnson during the call, including Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Trump insulted the soldier’s memory by suggesting his family should’ve seen it coming.
"Sarcastically, [Trump] said, 'But, you know, he must've known what he signed up for,'" Wilson told the South Florida news outlet. "How could you say that to a grieving widow?... I couldn't believe it, and he said it more than once. This man has no feelings for anyone. This is a young woman with a child."
The lawmaker added that Trump seemed to be unaware of the soldier’s name when he placed the call.
“He did not even know La David Johnson's name,” she later told ABC News. “He kept referring to him as 'your guy.' He never called his name. So that was even more painful."
Trump later took to Twitter to accuse all the black women involved of lying, though none of them had anything to gain from the story.
9. Every Outlet That Allowed Trump to Speak Freely and Idiotically
The Economist, for giving us the chance to watch Trump claim he invented an economic term that came into usage before he was born. Forbes, for correcting Trump’s lie that he’s the most legislatively successful president of all time. Extremely partial thanks to the (too-close-for-comfort) Wall Street Journal for providing Trump a forum in which to claim the word “Britain” has been taken out of circulation. Gosh, there are so many outlets I’m forgetting, or rather, have neither the time nor space to get to. In any case, thanks to you all for, at least here and there, reporting on how awful this man is. Now: try not handing the mic to a Trump supporter every time one of them has a passing thought; avoid euphemisms when the proper word is “racist”; and call a straight-up Trump falsehood a “lie.”