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Trump's Fake News Awards blasted as 'terrifying'

Donald Trump unveiled the winners late Wednesday, escalating his attacks on some of the major US media outlets.

Donald Trump has unveiled the winners of his "Fake News Awards", escalating his attacks on some of the major US media outlets.

Members of the media, politicians and activists slammed the awards as "terrifying", "chilling" and "disgusting".

The US president, who has spewed misinformation and conspiracy theories, first proposed the award in a November 2017 tweet.

The results on Wednesday evening came hours after Republican Senator Jeff Flake accused Trump of undermining the free press with Stalinist language.

The president announced the 11 winners on Twitter, linking to a list published on the Republican Party's website.

The website soon crashed after the post.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman led the list with his claim that Trump's presidential victory would kill financial markets.

ABC News came in at second place, with a report on Trump and Russia.

TIME was also awarded, having reported that Trump removed a Martin Luther King Jr bust from the Oval Office.

The "awards" referenced some journalistic errors - most of which were corrected by the outlet and journalists involved. 

Republican Senator John McCain recently decried Trump's aggression against the press.

Social media debate

In a column for the Washington Post before the awards, McCain said that the president's favourite phrase, "fake news", is "being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny, and mislead citizens".

Wednesday's development sparked a social media debate, with some questioning Trump's choices and others claiming the move targets media freedom.

Eugene Gu, a doctor, said on Twitter: "When the president of the United States attacks the freedom of the press, we become less and less the land of the free. We become more and more the land of tyranny."

Writer Wajahat Ali said the awards were "quite terrifying and chilling.

"This is what happens in dictatorships and fascist regimes," he added.

Scott Dworkin, cofounder of the anti-Trump Democratic Coalition group, said on Twitter: "The #FakeNewsAwards is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen a president do. Not only is he attacking free press, he's trying to make a joke out of him doing so."

Many in the media mocked the awards.

The New York Daily News expressed disappointment that it did not receive a mention.

The journalist Chris Riotta thanked the president for a nomination, saying "this was the exact motivation I needed to continue holding you accountable."

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