For the first time ever, Reporters Without Borders included the United States in its list of the top five most violent nations for journalists to be living and reporting in.
The new report from the group also found that the year 2018, while not the most deadly, was the most violent for journalists around the globe, according to reporting from CNN. In total, 80 journalists were killed in 2018, while 348 were detained, 60 held hostage, and three went (and remain) missing.
The organization faulted political leaders from around the world for encouraging an environment of hostility toward journalists. Many leaders, including President Donald Trump, encouraged contempt toward the media, which Reporters Without Borders secretary general Christophe Deloire condemned in a statement on the matter.
“The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists.”
The United States joined the list of the worst five nations for deaths of journalists across the world, the group added. These included two accidental deaths of journalists, who were covering storm conditions in North Carolina, and the murders of four journalists who were killed at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
It’s been a deadly year for journalists, analysts say, even in democratic countries where press freedom has been seen as an essential part of civil society https://t.co/kVQccOqQGf
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 11, 2018
General observations of Trump’s rhetoric over the past year seem to validate the group’s berating of the president. According to reporting from NBC News, Trump did little to condemn the actions of leaders from Saudi Arabia, for instance, when it became evident that they had ordered the killing of a dissident journalist named Jamal Khashoggi.
Despite the CIA issuing a report confirming that version of events, Trump stood steadfast against accepting those reports, and others from countries who are allied with our nation. “Do people really want me to give up hundreds of thousands of jobs” related to contracts negotiated with Saudi Arabia, Trump asked in the fall.
Trump also praised a lawmaker, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana), during a rally in his state, for his physical attacks against a journalist the year before. Gianforte had been asked questions by reporter Ben Jacobs that he didn’t like, and so he body slammed the reporter, an incident that was caught on audio recording.
During the rally this year, Trump brought up the incident, using it as justification for why he liked Gianforte. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said, according to reporting from the Washington Post.