CNN is now blaming President Donald Trump for Asian leaders cracking down on the media in their home countries, such as Myanmar and the Philippines. In an article headlined, “Asia’s strongmen follow Trump’s lead on fake news,” Trump is apparently the major factor for Asian leaders taking cues from the American president to decry fake news and to go after media outlets.
The article quoted a representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which gave Trump a Global Press Freedom Award two weeks ago.
CNN cited the arrest of two journalists in Myanmar who were reporting on the government’s massacre of Rohingya Muslim minorities and the Philippines government’s recent actions against a high-profile media outlet.
Although it is possible that leaders take cues from Trump, to lay sole blame at Trump’s feet is irresponsible.
Myanmar has been notoriously bad on press freedom, and Philippines president is known for not liking the press since his time as a mayor.
For example, Myanmar in 2015 and in 2016 received a Not Free rating from Freedom House, which rates countries on various types of freedoms and liberties. Similarly, the Philippines has had a Partly Free rating from Freedom House due to spotty enforcement of laws that could be easily weaponized against the press.