01:48 GMT27 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The US has lost two positions in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, sliding to 45th place from the 43rd in 2017 and continuing its downward trend under Trump's administration that reflects an overall increase in hostility toward media worldwide, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in their latest ranking, issued on Wednesday.

    "In 2017, the 45th President of the United States helped sink the country to 45th place by labeling the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempts to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routine use of the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting, and calling for media outlets’ broadcasting licenses to be revoked," RSF said in its annual review of 180 countries and their relationship with the media.

    RSF noted that the White House’s anti-press rhetoric had been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at other levels, with journalists facing different risks, including arrest and physical assault, for covering protests or asking public officials questions.

    READ MORE: Half of US Voters Want FBI Ex-Director Comey Prosecuted for Press Leaks — Poll

    The research showed that the "climate of hatred" toward media was steadily more visible in the index, with the increasing number of democratically-elected leaders no longer seeing the media as essential part of a democratic process but as an "adversary to which they openly display their aversion."

    Along with the index’s traditional anti-leaders, Turkey and Egypt, where journalists are often accused of terrorism and put into custody, verbal violence from politicians against the media is also on the rise in Europe, RSF noted.

    Among new European countries of concern are Malta and Slovakia, shattered by high-profile murders of journalists, as well as the Czech Republic.

    READ MORE: Diplomatic: Alleged US Consulate Employee Gives Middle Finger to Press (VIDEO)

    Vietnam and China stand at the 175th and 176th positions respectively, followed by Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea, and North Korea retaining the last place in the rating.

    The top three countries of the media freedom rating are Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands.


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