PARIS (Reuters) – Western political leaders who foment hostility to the media are playing with fire and pose a growing threat to democracies, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned on Wednesday in its annual press freedom index.
Growing animosity towards journalists is no longer limited to authoritarian countries like Turkey and Egypt, the Paris-based group said, citing the United States under President Donald Trump, who this year has dropped two places to 45.  "Hatred towards" Political leaders who foment hatred towards journalists have a great responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda, "RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
To discuss the legitimacy of today's journalism is to play with an extremely dangerous political fire ".
Trump attacks the media in response to criticism Stories about him have been a staple of his Twitter account and he tweeted in February 2017 that "fake news media" was "the enemy of the American people" . [nL1N1PC1KG]
But the verbal violence of politicians against the media is also on the rise in Europe, RSF said.
He cited the Czech Republic, 11 places down at 34th place, where President Milos Zeman appeared at a press conference with a fake Kalashnikov inscribed the words "for journalists", and Slovakia, 10 places down at 27th place , where the then Prime Minister Robert Fico called the journalists "dirty and anti-Slovak prostitutes". [nL8N1QI612]
Criticism of the media by politicians and media personalities was particularly virulent during the campaign for the French presidential elections in 2017, he said.
Although Britain remained at its current rank in the 40th place this year, RSF warned about insufficient protection for whistleblowers, journalists and their sources under the Investigative Powers Act, which he called "the surveillance legislation more extreme in the history of the United Kingdom. "
"A continued and severe approach to the press (often in the name of national security) The result was that the United Kingdom maintained its status as one of the Western European countries worst ranked in the World Press Freedom Index "said RSF.
Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands were the best ranked countries, while North Korea, Eritrea and Turkmenistan came in the bottom.
(Information by Michel Rose; Leigh Thomas Edition)