"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.
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.
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.