Trump cited in threat to close foreign news outlets
In a sign that President Donald Trump’s criticism of the news media may be having a ripple effect overseas, a government spokesman in Cambodia has cited the United States leader in threatening to shutter foreign news outlets, including some that receive money from Washington.
The spokesman, Phay Siphan, said that foreign news groups, including the US-financed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, should “reconsider” how they broadcast — or risk a government response if their reports spread disinformation or threatened peace and stability.
The White House decision to bar news outlets, including The
New York Times, CNN and Politico, from a briefing last week, Phay Siphan said in a Facebook post on Saturday, “is based on the power and mandate of the state”.
The decision, he wrote, “sends a clear message” that Trump “sees that news broadcast by those media outlets does not reflect the truth, which is the responsibility of professional journalists”.
“Freedom of expression,” he wrote, “is subject to the law and must respect the state’s power”.
Prime Minister Hun Sen echoed Phay Siphan’s remarks but stopped short of threatening to close problematic news outlets, according to a report in The
Phnom Penh Post newspaper. Critics say Hun Sen’s government is using Trump’s words to justify a crackdown on critical news coverage before two elections, adding that the move could herald a new tactic in efforts to suppress free speech by governments in Southeast Asia.
The Facebook comments “show pretty clearly that as soon as there are perceptions that the US has wavered on its commitment to press freedom, then countries with authoritarian tendencies are quick to abandon any pretense of allowing the media to operate freely”, said Shawn W. Crispin, the Bangkok-based representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.