How to beat the Trump administration’s ‘fake news’ crackdown
The federal government’s new sanctions are the latest blow to the Trump White House, but they have come in response to what it calls the “fake news” crackdown.
The sanctions target a number of news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, that it claims are “distorting” the public debate.
“The Department of Justice has issued a new set of sanctions that it says unfairly targets The Washington Times and other news outlets that are publishing fake news, according to a release from the Department of the Treasury.”
That is the phrase the administration used to describe the new sanctions, but it’s hard to tell what it really means, as the Treasury Department says it is “pursuing an investigation” into The Washington Daily News and other publications that it deems to be fake news outlets.
The Washington Free Beacon and The Daily Beast, both conservative media outlets, were among the outlets targeted.
The administration says it has already levied sanctions on “a handful of individuals and companies” for publishing fake articles.
The Treasury Department said it has also imposed sanctions on a number other news organizations.
One of the sanctions targets The Intercept, a news organization based in Hong Kong that has been accused of publishing a fake story that President Donald Trump was involved in the 2016 murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
The Intercept says that it has not been targeted in the new rules, and that the White House’s actions are part of a broader crackdown on media outlets that it believes are not “objective and neutral.”
The administration is also targeting The New York Times, a liberal-leaning newspaper based in New York that was accused of “misrepresenting” information in a story about a meeting between former President Donald Trumps son-in-law and Russian officials.
“We have repeatedly warned that the public’s trust in media is at risk,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement announcing the sanctions.
“Our sanctions are meant to hold the media accountable for publishing false, inaccurate, and otherwise misleading news and to hold those who disseminate it to account for the harm it does to American lives and property.”
A spokesperson for The Intercept said that the company is not a “disgruntled individual” or a “spy organization.”
“The Intercept is a media organization that has nothing to do with Russia, the Kremlin, or anyone for that matter.
We’ve been accused repeatedly of spreading false and defamatory stories about the Trump family, Trump’s son-on-law, and others,” spokesperson Ali Noor told The Associated Press.
“This latest round of sanctions is just the latest in a long line of actions the administration is taking against The Intercept and its journalists.”
Mnuchin’s comments came as the administration’s efforts to punish the media continues to grow.
In a memo released Monday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Andrew Puzder outlined a plan to take the “broadest possible” amount of the $3 billion in sanctions levied on a wide range of individuals or entities over the past several months, with the goal of “reinforcing deterrence and strengthening public confidence in the integrity of the economic sanctions system.”
“In the past few months, the Trump Administration has taken additional steps to deter the spread of misinformation, including: targeting a number, or groups, of news organizations, individuals, and companies; imposing new sanctions on individual news organizations that publish false, misleading, and/or deceptive information; and targeting individuals and entities for the purpose of financial penalties,” the memo said.
Trump’s decision to impose the sanctions comes after the Trump-appointed National Security Council released a “Dear Colleague” letter, which cited a variety of “threats” and alleged “foreign interference” against U.S. officials and businesses.
“These are all just more signs of the seriousness with which the Trump Admin is taking the threats and misinformation threat posed by Russia very seriously,” the letter said.
“As we have seen in the past, when the Administration puts in place a robust response, it does so with the full support of the American people.”
In a statement, The Intercept described the new measures as “unprecedented” and said that it will fight them in court.
“When it comes to the media, The Washington Journal and other outlets that we believe are trying to undermine President Trump, we will be filing our lawsuit,” the statement read.
“It’s important to remember that we are not a ‘spy agency’ or ‘fringe organization’ and that our journalism has not changed under President Trump.
We have not received any threats from the Trump regime, and we have never received any information from the Administration that we know to be false.”
But The Intercept is not alone.
The Associated Americans Association, a nonprofit organization that represents nearly 1.3 million Americans, said in its statement that the administration “is taking unprecedented action to attack the First Amendment right to free expression and speech rights.”
“Our response to these unprecedented sanctions will be to continue to vigorously defend our First Amendment rights