“In terms of what Trump can do, I mean, clearly, what he can do is he can create a chilling atmosphere.”

Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), does not mince words in a new interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

Simon joined Goodman to discuss “fake news” and how the Trump administration will interact with the media, especially with regard to leaked material.

First, the two discuss Trump’s tense relationship with the mainstream media.

“[A]s long as [the media] amplifies his message, he welcomes it, but as soon as it adopts a critical posture, there’s a completely different response,” Simon says. “And what’s really concerning here is, OK, he’s angry. You can understand why he’s angry. I mean, these reports were very damaging. But now that he’s going to become president, how will these attitudes be transformed into policies?”

Simon goes on to explain that what he and the CPJ are most concerned about is “leak investigations,” which were initiated by the Obama administration.

“I think it’s highly likely that if these attitudes, this anger, this lashing out at the media every time he’s criticized—if those are transformed into policies, my greatest concern is about aggressive leak investigations,” Simon states, “which ensnare journalists and which represent a significant threat to journalists in this country and potentially globally.”

Expanding on this thought, Simon tells Goodman:

“Well, look, we have—we have a First Amendment. We have a vital and robust press. We have a legal framework. We have independent institutions. So, you know, you have to—you have to recognize that.

“But I think that what alarms me is this kind of framework in which information itself and the role of the media is denigrated, is—it’s an environment in which there’s confusion, obviously, about what’s real, what’s not real, what’s news, what is not news. Fake news is being bandied about. And what that does is it creates an environment in which it almost inoculates Trump from critical media coverage. And that’s the framework that he’s creating. And that’s a framework that we see in authoritarian countries, where the media is denigrated, sidelined, marginalized, attacked, confidence is eroded, and that creates a framework in which authoritarian leaders assert more power.”

The two also discuss Meryl Streep’s recent Golden Globes speech, in which she directly referred to the work of the CPJ. Simon acknowledges that her speech led to a spike in donations to the CPJ but, more importantly, “the press, I think, was invigorated” by her words.

Watch the entire interview, which begins with a brief analysis of Trump’s remarks to a CNN journalist this week, below:

—Posted by Emma Niles

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