Posts Tagged ‘fake news’

Reports of hundreds of Russians killed in Syria attempt to exploit war — Just anti-Russian propaganda?

February 19, 2018


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that reports that hundreds of Russian mercenaries had been killed in Syria recently were an attempt to exploit the war there, the RIA news agency reported.

About 300 men working for a Kremlin-linked Russian private military firm were either killed or injured in Syria in an incident this month, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaks at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (Sven Hoppe-dpa via AP)


Harry Roque pirouettes for Duterte

February 15, 2018
The Presidential Spokesman changes his tune on at least 3 issues he championed as private lawyer – the West Philippine Sea, extrajudicial killings, and press freedom

Philippines Union of Journalists Calls Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque a “Fake News Peddler”

February 9, 2018


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quoted in an interview as saying: “The reason why social media in the Philippines, the DDS has grown as big as it is, is in reaction to the fact that traditional media really does not report the truth.” Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante, File


Kristine Joy Patag ( – February 9, 2018 – 3:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — From an ally of the press, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has become a “true blue peddler of ‘fake news,'” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.

Roque was quoted in an interview with social media user Franco Mabanta as saying: “The reason why social media in the Philippines, the DDS (Diehard Duterte Supporters) has grown as big as it is, is in reaction to the fact that traditional media really does not report the truth.”

With a lawyer who once handled high-profile cases on human rights making that kind of statement, NUJP said that Roque has just “completed his metamorphosis.”

READ: Roque denies endorsing fake news

“We are tempted to call his transformation shameful but for the fact that we seriously doubt he even knows shame anymore,” the NUJP said.

The journalists’ group also slammed Roque for ‘displaying a mastery of ‘creative imagination,'” a statement that was used by his predecessor Ernesto Abella as advice for the press reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s colorful speeches.

“Like his principal, he has acquired a penchant for accusing media of making him look bad by doing what they ought to—reporting his pronouncements accurately with the proper context and background,” NUJP said.

Duterte has repeatedly launched heated tirades against media for their supposedly “biased” and “unfair” coverage, a remark parroted by his supporters in social media against journalists.

“There can be no worse spokesman than one who cannot talk straight then blames the messenger for his muddled message,” the group said.

Prior to his stint as Duterte spokesman, Roque said he was ready to hurl figurative hollow blocks at the president’s critics.

While the NUJP admitted that the media are not “infallible” and have slipped up, they argued that the members of the press have “more often than not, corrected with the proper apologies issued.”

“[T]he bulk of media content is as accurate as the rigorous vetting stories are subjected to can be,” they argued.

“Try as they might, Roque and his fellow purveyors of deceit can never hope to replace media for, in the end, the truth will come out,” the NUJP added.

The spread of fake news has been widely seen by experts as a major global threat with its reported ability to manipulate elections and imperil democracies.

RELATED: Facebook: A tool for democracy or global business?

The Senate has held two hearings in aid of legislation on fake news, however, Sen. Grace Poe said that the Congress “cannot legislate thought control.”


Philippine Presidential office says any law penalizing fake news on social media would be unconstitutional — “Is there something that feels creepy at the top of the Philippine Government?”

February 1, 2018
 / 07:04 AM February 01, 2018

Malacañang on Wednesday said any law penalizing fake news on social media would be unconstitutional, as this would curtail freedom of speech.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said legislating against fake news was “content-based restriction” and tantamount to censorship.

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

“First of all, what will the Senate do? Will they pass a law to punish fake news? The problem there is who will determine what is true and what is fake,” Roque said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer.

“That is prior restraint. That is content-based restriction, which means that is presumed unconstitutional because freedom of speech is very important,” he said.

“We say that all laws that suppress or prohibit speech violate our Constitution,” he added.

Senate hearing

Roque made the remarks a day after the Senate committee on public information held another hearing on fake news in which the committee chair, Sen. Grace Poe, expressed concern over the taking down of certain Facebook posts about a proposed agreement between the Duterte administration and the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on the disposition of their alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Poe said she wanted to know what guidelines had been set by the various social media platforms to ensure their users’ freedom of speech and expression were not violated or abused.

She gave assurance that the Senate would not pass any law to curtail freedom of speech and expression.

“While I am concerned about the pernicious effects of the proliferation of fake news that can destroy not just a person’s reputation but institutions as well, I am in no way in favor of any measure that aims to suppress our freedom of speech or expression,” she said.

‘Patriotic trolling’

At the same hearing, Maria Ressa, chief executive of  news website Rappler, said state-sponsored “patriotic trolling” had used cheap social media armies to spread fake news and hate campaigns to quell dissent, and to control and manipulate public opinion.

President Rodrigo Duterte called Rappler a “fake news outfit” for reporting on his chief aide Christopher “Bong” Go’s alleged involvement in the acquisition of a combat management system for new Navy frigates.

Rappler is seeking to nullify a Securities and Exchange Commission decision to shut it down for alleged violation of the constitutional ban on foreign control of mass media in the Philippines.

Better journalism

In the radio interview, Roque clarified that the government was not encouraging fake news.

“The solution is never censorship but better journalism,” he said.

“What I said earlier that without fake news we would not know what is true news should not be taken as governmental encouragement of fake news. Far from it,” he added.

Roque said even American journalism had “a sordid history in the so-called penny press of promoting quackery and all sorts of things that today would not be considered respectable journalism.”

“Yet US jurisprudence on free speech developed a conviction that the solution is never governmental censorship, but better journalism,” Roque said.

The US Supreme Court in 1964 ruled that mistakes in reportage on public figures were excusable, “otherwise the free and unimpeded discussion of public issues would be hindered,” he said.

US jurisprudence

“Free and open debate about the conduct of public officials, the court reasoned, was more important than occasional, honest factual errors that might hurt or damage officials’ reputations,” Roque said.

“Even a false statement may be deemed to make a valuable contribution to public debate, since it brings about ‘the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error,’” he said, quoting the US Supreme Court.

Roque said American jurisprudence rested on the belief that the fear of punishment would never be a stable basis for good government.

“Reasoned public deliberation is the better recourse, despite the attendant risks posed by falsehood and misinformation,” Roque said.

“For sure and to be clear, fake news as is known today should find no place as a matter of governmental policy.

Enlightened citizens should be able to pick out chaff from grain and appreciate what good journalism is about,” he added.

Roque also defended Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, who has been accused of spreading fake news especially about opponents of the President, against calls to close down her blog.

“I don’t understand what’s the conflict of interest there. So, if you join government, you lose your right to free speech? What do you want to happen? For government people to shut up?” he said.

Uson has denied spreading fake news, adding that she posted only opinion pieces.

“And I am not [a member of the] media. My blog contains opinions. You may not agree with them but they are not news,” she said.

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Philippines: Spread of fake news aims to silence dissent, says chief of embattled Philippine site Rappler

January 30, 2018


MANILA (Reuters) – The head of a Philippine online news site battling revocation of its licence on Tuesday said some governments have sought to “silence dissent” through the proliferation of fake news, flooding social media with hate messages.

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FILE PHOTO – Rappler CEO Maria Ressa visits the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Taft avenue in metro Manila, Philippines January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

There is now state-sponsored “patriotic trolling” designed to harass and intimidate, Maria Ressa, the chief executive of the news site, Rappler, told senators holding an inquiry into the spread of fake news in the Philippines.

“Social media provided cheap armies to potential authoritarian and dictators to control and manipulate public opinion,” Ressa said, citing a study in which Rappler participated that is set to be released in the next few months.

She did not provide details of the study, but said it mirrored the findings of a survey of 65 countries released last November by a U.S.-based group, Freedom House, that showed China and Russia were flooding social media with lies and disinformation, rather than seeking to control them.

Ressa also demonstrated for the senators how fake news was manufactured by false accounts and spread in Facebook, the top social media platform in the Philippines, with nearly 70 million users.

Governments have “weaponised the internet” to push propaganda, she said, but joined other journalists, bloggers and even the government’s communications office, to resist senators’ plans for measures to rein in social media.

In Southeast Asia, the media fear authoritarian leaders will use new laws to target legitimate news outlets critical of them, rather than focus on false stories published on social media, as they tighten clampdowns.

“There are existing laws,” she said. “I don’t believe that we should have more legislation but I think we should impose existing laws on this and demand accountability.”

The courts can deal with false information maligning people, said Roby Alampay, editor in chief of the BusinessWorld daily, asking lawmakers not to legislate controls on free speech, expression and the press.

“The important thing is to use our rights, to use your laws and to fight back,” Alampay added.


No laws will be passed to suppress freedom of the media and expression, said Grace Poe, head of the senate panel on public information, adding that senators were only interested on how to regulate the spread of false information on social media.

Rappler has invoked freedom of the press in its appeal to the Court of Appeals in the Philippines, challenging a decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission to revoke its license for violations of foreign equity curbs on domestic media.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Additional reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Clarence Fernandez


From Rappler

Maria Ressa appears at NBI for cyber libel complaint

‘We have nothing to hide, I’m right here. We don’t have a copy of the complaint, so I don’t know what kinds of questions they will ask, but we’re not afraid,’ says Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday, January 22, for an initial hearing over a complaint for cyber libel.

Ressa was complying with a subpoena served by the NBI Cybercrime Division. Others who were subpoenaed – former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr and businessman Benjamin Bitanga – did not appear.

Ressa said Rappler was not given a copy of the complaint when the subpoena was served. The complaint was filed by Wilfredo Keng, a businessman who was the subject of an investigative report written by Santos and published in May 2012.

“We have nothing to hide, I’m right here. We don’t have a copy of the complaint, so I don’t know what kinds of questions they will ask, but we’re not afraid,” Ressa said before she proceeded to the cybercrime division with her lawyers.

Sought for legal input, Sol Mawis, Dean of the Lyceum Law School, told Rappler in a phone interview that the Cybercrime Law cannot be invoked in the case since all criminal laws are not retroactive.

The report was published in May 2012, but the law was enacted only in September 2012.

But Cybercrime Division chief Manuel Eduarte said the theory of continuous publication can be applied, meaning Keng could be presumed to have seen the report only after enactment.

Mawis does not agree. “It cannot be a continuing crime because there’s only one criminal intent. If you published today, your criminal intent today would be different from your criminal intent tomorrow.”

All 3 subpoenas, signed by NBI Director Dante Gierran, were dated January 10, a day before the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled to revoke Rappler Inc’s registration.

On January 17, Justice Sectetary Vitaliano Aguirre II formally authorized the NBI to conduct a case buildup against Rappler over issues of corporate foreign control and possible violations of the anti-dummy law.

Aguirre said the probe could also look into “other laws” that may have been violated by Rappler.

Rappler slammed the investigation as a fishing expedition, meant to harass the news organization and silence a critical press. –

Donald Trump Denies Reports He Tried to Fire Mueller — First Reported by The New York Times

January 26, 2018

President calls reports “fake news” as he arrives at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington on June 21, 2017.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington on June 21, 2017. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

DAVOS, Switzerland—President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed as “fake news” reports that in June he ordered the top White House lawyer to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but backed off when his counsel threatened to resign.

“Fake news. Fake news,” Mr. Trump said as he arrived in the World Economic Forum on Friday morning for meetings with foreign leaders ahead of his address this afternoon.

The New York Times first reported Thursday on Mr. Trump’s alleged directive, what would be the first known instance where he attempted to fire Mr. Mueller as the special counsel investigates whether Trump associates colluded in Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Moscow has denied meddling in the election.

The Department of Justice tapped Mr. Mueller to lead the investigation after Mr. Trump fired then-Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey last May. Mr. Comey had previously been leading the Russia probe.

Around the same point last summer as Mr. Trump reportedly issued his order to fire Mr. Mueller, West Wing officials expressed concern that White House counsel Don McGahn would quit out of frustration over the lack of protocols surrounding meetings between Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, whose activities are under scrutiny in the Russia probe, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The president has repeatedly complained about what he perceives as a lack of loyalty among his top law-enforcement officials. He has attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his decision last spring to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, leaving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge. Prior to firing Mr. Comey, he told the then-FBI director he expected his loyalty, Mr. Comey told Congress last year.

As part of the Russia investigation, Mr. Mueller is also examining whether the president obstructed justice in firing Mr. Comey. He has told Mr. Trump’s lawyers he may want to interview the president about that issue and others in the near future, the Journal reported.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday he was willing to testify under oath in Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which he has repeatedly called a “witch hunt,” putting the timeline for such an interview within two to three weeks. “I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,” the president said.

The president’s attorneys have spent recent weeks negotiating the precise terms under which Mr. Trump might consent to an interview with the special counsel, according to people familiar with their efforts.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at

Facebook acknowledges social media’s risks to democracy

January 22, 2018


© AFP/File | Facebook said it is stepping up efforts to ensure its platform is used to help and not hurt democracy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – acebook acknowledged Monday that widespread use of social media can be harmful to democracy, while pledging to work to minimize these risks.The world’s biggest social network’s comments were the latest response to persistent criticism for its role in allowing the spread of misinformation, reinforcing “filter bubbles” and facilitating harassment of dissidents and activists.

“Now, we’re as determined as ever to fight the negative influences and ensure that our platform is unquestionably a source for democratic good,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s head of global politics and government outreach, in a statement.

Facebook civic engagement chief Samidh Chakrabarti said in a blog post the social network was “far too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing our platform” and that the company is now “working diligently to neutralize these risks.”

The “hard questions” blog post was part of an effort by Facebook to reboot its image after last week’s announcement indicating it would call on its users to “rank” the trustworthiness of sources as part of an effort to stem the flow of false news.

“While I’m an optimist at heart, I’m not blind to the damage that the internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy,” Chakrabati said.

He added that Facebook is constantly working to balance the value of openness and transparency with efforts to stop manipulation.

“Many human rights organizations commonly use Facebook to spread educational messages around the world,” he said. “The wrong kind of transparency could put these activists in real danger in many countries.”

Chakrabarti added that Facebook is also struggling with “hate speech,” and limiting the spread of violent propaganda while remaining an open platform.

“Policing this content at a global scale is an open research problem since it is hard for machines to understand the cultural nuances of political intimidation,” he said.

“And while we are hiring over 10,000 more people this year to work on safety and security, this is likely to remain a challenge.”

In an accompanying guest blog post, Harvard professor Cass Sunstein said one of the difficult questions for social media and democracy is how news feeds are personalized.

“What social media platforms do is to make certain kinds of targeting and certain kinds of self-sorting, and especially self-sorting among hundreds, thousands, or millions of strangers a lot easier — easier than it has ever been,” Sunstein wrote.

“The good news is that social media platforms are hardly a finished fact to be categorically assessed. They are very much a work in progress.”


How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy




Facebook admits what we all know: that social media can be bad for democracy

‘I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives.’

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook’s ongoing attempt to reckon with its impact on civil life continued today with the company acknowledging that its platform is not always good for democracy.

In a set of blog posts published as part of its “Hard Questions” series, Facebook execs and outside experts assess the company’s impact on elections, partisan politics, and fake news. As ever, Facebook tempers its self-criticism. For example, referring to “the damage that the internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy” (our emphasis), rather than damage caused by Facebook specifically. But, it does admit to a sliver more responsibility — taking the company one step further from CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments in 2016 that it was “crazy” to say Facebook influenced the US election.

As Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath tells it, this was the moment the company began to recognize its influence on democracy, for better or for worse. “From the Arab Spring to robust elections around the globe, social media seemed like a positive,” writes Harbarth. “The last US presidential campaign changed that, with foreign interference that Facebook should have been quicker to identify to the rise of ‘fake news’ and echo chambers.”

In another post, Facebook’s product manage for civic engagement, Samidh Chakrabarti, expands on these issues. He points out many positives — that the company helps keep people informed about politics, and that it’s a venue for debate — but cautions that the company will never be able to completely stamp out its problems. On the spread of fake news and misinformation on Facebook, he writes: “Even with all these countermeasures, the battle will never end.”

Since November 2016, Facebook has moved to address these issues in concrete ways. This month, the company started to reengineer the News Feed, demoting content from news outlets in favor of activity from friends. It’s also going to start polling users on which sources they trust. “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” said Zuckerberg.

Arguably, though, these moves also exacerbate existing problems. If users get less news from news sources, they’re more likely to share sensationalized stories, say reports. And if people are given the task of judging which outlets they find trustworthy, what’s to stop them simply voting in line with sites that support their worldview? This perpetuates the problem of polarization and “echo chamber” politics — which Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School, calls “a nightmare” in a blog post published today for Facebook.

It’s also important to note that although much of Facebook’s attention is focused on the US and the influence of Russia on the 2016 election, in other parts of the world the situation is more dire. A recent report from BuzzFeed in Cambodia illustrated Facebook’s problematic role in politics, with the country’s authoritarian prime minister Hun Sen (last year Sen bannedthe main opposition party) using the site to push pro-government messages while identifying, and often jailing, critics.

As Facebook’s Chakrabarti writes: “If there’s one fundamental truth about social media’s impact on democracy it’s that it amplifies human intent — both good and bad […] I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t.”

Facebook to serve ‘trustworthy’ news over fake news, says CEO

January 20, 2018

By David Ingram


San Francisco: Facebook will prioritise “trustworthy” news in its feed of social media posts, using member surveys to identify high-quality outlets and fight sensationalism and misinformation, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg now says.

The company, which has more than 2 billion monthly users, said its members, not experts or Facebook executives, would determine how news outlets rank in terms of trustworthiness. It also said it would put an emphasis on local news sources.

The move is likely to send shockwaves through the media landscape in nearly every country, given the ubiquity of the world’s largest social network and how central it has become in some places to the distribution of news.

Zuckerberg said on Friday he expected recently announced changes to shrink the amount of news on Facebook by 20 per cent, to about 4 per cent of all content from 5 per cent currently.

The chief executive outlined the shake-up in a post on Facebook on Friday, saying that starting next week the News Feed, the company’s centrepiece product, would prioritise “high quality news” over less trusted sources.

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarisation in the world today,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them,” he wrote.

The quality of news on Facebook has been called into question after alleged Russian operatives, for-profit spammers and others spread false reports on the site, including during the 2016 US election campaign.

Two years ago, Facebook users saw hoaxes saying Pope Francis endorsed Republican Donald Trump for US president and that a federal agent investigating Democrat Hillary Clinton was found dead. Facebook initially proposed fighting false stories by letting users flag them.

The change will affect not only links posted by news outlets but also news stories that individuals share, Facebook said.

News organisations immediately began considering how they would fare in the ranking.

The trust ranking will help to address fake news stories, said David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, a trade group for old-line US newspapers

“For some time, we have argued that Facebook should give priority to news from trusted sources,” he said in a statement.

Tom Gara, opinion editor at BuzzFeed News, wrote on Twitter that he expected partisan outlets to fare worse: “This sounds like extremely good news for news publishers that aren’t hated by one side or the other.”

Facebook has had a stormy relationship with news organisations, especially those with strong political leanings. In 2016, Republican US lawmakers expressed concern that Facebook, based in liberal Northern California, was suppressing news stories of interest to conservative readers.

Facebook said that ranking by trustworthiness was not intended to directly impact any specific groups of publishers based on their size or ideology.

Zuckerberg said he settled on the idea of surveying Facebook users after rejecting having the company itself rank news outlets’ trustworthiness.

“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” he wrote in his post.

Facebook said it did not plan to release the survey results because they will represent an incomplete picture of how a story’s position in a person’s feed is determined.

Many factors determine where a post appears in a Facebook user’s News Feed such as subject of the post, who wrote it and who is commenting on it.

Last week, Zuckerberg said the company would change the way it filters posts and videos on News Feed to prioritise what friends and family share.

News Corp, owner of the New York Post and other outlets, responded to the earlier Facebook announcement with a pledge to look for “any signs that the weighting of news sites is politically motivated.”

The Rupert Murdoch-led company had no immediate comment on Friday.


Flake Says Trump’s Fake News Claims as Damaging as Stalin’s

January 15, 2018


ByChris Strohm

  • President ‘reflexively’ brands press as enemy, lawmaker says
  • GOP Arizona senator plans to deliver floor speech this week
Senator Jeff FlakePhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake plans to compare President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the media to those made by Joseph Stalin, the infamous dictator of the former Soviet Union, in a speech this week.

“When you reflexively refer to the press as the enemy of the people or fake news, that has real damage,” Flake said Sunday in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

“And then now, today, you have authoritarians across the world using the term ‘fake news’ to justify cracking down on their opposition or — or stanch legitimate debate,” Flake said. “That’s nothing we should be proud of.”

Flake said he’ll expand on the Trump-Stalin comparison during a speech on the Senate floor, probably on Jan. 17. That’s the same day that Trump announced he’ll give out awards to media outlets he claims are producing “fake news.”

“The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers” on Jan. 17, Trump said in a Jan. 7 Twitter message. “The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!”

The president has repeatedly railed against what he says is fake news. In February, he called the media “enemy of the people” in a tweet.

Forbade by Khrushchev

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote.

“It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even (later Soviet leader) Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin to for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader,” Flake will say in his Senate speech, according to NBC News, citing excerpts provided.

In addition to his regular claims of “fake news,” Trump attempted this month — through a cease-and-desist order sent by an attorney — to halt publication of a book critical of him and his administration, Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

Flake has been a vocal critic of the president in recent months. The first-term senator announced in October that he won’t seek re-election in 2018. In November, Trump tweeted that Flake, whom he called “Flake(y),” was “unelectable” and had quit the race amid “anemic polls.”

In response to Trump’s planned awards, the Committee to Project Journalists, a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedoms worldwide, announced a “Press Oppressors” awards list on Jan. 8. The president was named as a winner along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others.

Donald Trump in Fight With Wall Street Journal — White House pushes back over Trump N. Korea quote

January 14, 2018


© AFP | The White House has denied that President Donald Trump said he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un


The White House on Saturday denied and corrected a quote attributed to President Donald Trump that suggested he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-Un,” Trump was quoted as telling The Wall Street Journal in an interview on Thursday.

But Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted that Trump said “I’d,” not “I” as the newspaper reported.

Both The Wall Street Journal and the White House posted audio recordings of Trump’s remarks on Twitter. These, while not completely clear, appeared to support Sanders’ account.

Sanders had earlier tweeted a written message disputing the newspaper’s article.

“President Trump said, I’D probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I’D — I’D — I’D. NOT I!” the message read, with “I’D” in red ink, under a red banner reading “FAKE NEWS.”

Mockingly mimicking the newspaper’s front page, it then reads “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL — FAKE NEWS IS AT IT AGAIN! — FALSELY QUOTING PRESIDENT TRUMP.”

Washington and Pyongyang are in a standoff over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, which could be used to target the United States and its allies.

Trump has repeatedly insulted the North Korean leader, describing him as mad and a “rocket man.”

Asked if by The Wall Street Journal if he had spoken to Kim, Trump said: “I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment.”

Trump suggested his variable position on individuals was part of a broader strategy.

But it was not clear how his remarks fitted with his self-described policy of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.

In the coming week the United States and Canada are to host a meeting in Vancouver on the nuclear standoff with North Korea, bringing together friendly powers from around the world.


White House Disputes Trump Quote in Journal Interview

The Wall Street Journal stands by what it reported and releases audio of disputed portion of interview

President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday. The White House has disputed a quote from an interview Mr. Trump gave The Journal that day.
President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday. The White House has disputed a quote from an interview Mr. Trump gave The Journal that day. PHOTO: AL DRAGO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

WASHINGTON—The White House disputed that President Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Thursday that “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” saying that Mr. Trump had instead said “I’d probably have a very good relationship” with the North Korean leader.
Disputed Audio from Donald Trump Interview With WSJ
The White House disputed the accuracy of a comment by the president about Kim Jong Un. The Wall Street Journal stands by its transcript and is releasing the audio from this portion of the interview. Photo: Getty Images

The Journal stands by what it reported. The Journal and White House agreed before the interview that audiotape taken by White House officials and reporters would be used for transcription purposes only. After the White House challenged the Journal’s transcription and accuracy of the quote in a story, The Journal decided to release the relevant portion of the audio. The White House then released its audio version of the contested segment.

In a message posted to Twitter earlier on Saturday evening, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that “Fake News is at it again!” and said the Journal was “falsely quoting” the president. “President Trump said, I’D probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I’D — I’D — I’D — NOT I!” the message said.

transcript of the interview created by an independent transcription service for The Journal and posted online by the newspaper Thursday evening also said that Mr. Trump had said “I” rather than “I’d.”

The transcript said that after the remarks, which included characterizations by Mr. Trump of his relationship with President Xi Jinping of China and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Journal reporters had asked Mr. Trump whether he had spoken with Mr. Kim, which Mr. Trump declined to answer.

Journal reporters then asked him about his tweets and the combative tone Mr. Trump sometimes took toward Mr. Kim. Mr. Trump replied that he often took that tone “and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.”

The White House declined to comment on the Journal’s release of the audiotape.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at