As the Time's Up campaign against sexual harassment swept the red carpet, press freedom had its share of the spotlight at the 75th Annual Golden Globes as well.
At the awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded two grants of $1 million each to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization based in New York that promotes press freedom worldwide, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). ICIJ made headlines around the world for its groundbreaking 'Paradise Papers' investigations exposing offshore tax havens used by the wealthy individuals and corporations.
"The press is under siege these days," said Oprah Winfrey, who won the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the ceremony. "We also know it's the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice, to tyrants and victims, and secrets and lies."
"We HFPA journalists are committed to supporting humanitarian organizations, film restoration, and film education," remarked Meher Tatna, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
"Comments from presenters indicated that people are concerned with what is happening in the media and want things to improve... We saw that on stage," said CPJ’s Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch. An official CPJ statement read: "We are thrilled to have such strong allies in our fight to protect and uphold press freedom.”
“There’s never been a more important time to safeguard the truth by supporting investigative journalism,” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle, in a news release. "Truth is under attack, both politically and economically, and the brutal reality of recent years is that journalists routinely risk their lives just for doing their jobs, even in countries once thought safe."
In 2017, CPJ confronted new threats to a free press in the United States, the organization stated, noting that they expanded their research and advocacy, including efforts to get the U.S. government to stand up for journalists and press freedom.
Among such efforts were helping revitalize the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press. CPJ launched the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which documents anti-press incidents in the U.S. It also developed relationships with several U.S. senators and members of Congress who took concrete action on press freedom, including citing our research publicly and in the Senate.
On Tuesday, a few days before the Golden Globes, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he will be announcing “the most dishonest and corrupt media awards.” Since the start of his presidency campaign, Trump has been labeling legitimate news organizations as "fake news" in response to their critical reporting about his government.
I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
When they saw Trump's announcement, CPJ decided that was the perfect opportunity to draw attention to where the real problem lies, Radsch said.
On Monday, CPJ released a list of "world leaders who use rhetoric, legal action, and censorship to try to silence their critics," dubbing it the "Press Oppressors awards."
"Trump's rhetoric has an impact on the world," Radsch asserted, saying that, "We have seen many leaders adopt the same fake news allegations in both democratic and non democratic countries."
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was named "Most Thin-skinned," with Trump as runner-up. He also 'won' in the category of "Most Outrageous Use of Terror Laws Against the Press," with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi in second place. Trump, meanwhile, was given dubious honours for "Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom."
In 2017, CPJ contributed to the early release from prison of 70 journalists worldwide, the organization said. It helped secure convictions in the murders of three journalists, and met with the presidents of Mexico and Ukraine and urged them to fight impunity in attacks against the media. It issued safety advisories for journalists in hostile environments, including in Kenya, Iraq, Venezuela, and the U.S. As well, it provided direct assistance to more than 100 journalists under threat.
At the CPJ’s International Press Freedom Awards ceremony in November, award-winning actress Meryl Streep gave a rousing speech about the importance of a free press for democracy, stating: “Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you: the fourth estate, our first line of defense against tyranny and the establishment of state-sanctioned news....We need every single story covered with care and ingenuity and relentless pursuit, because everything counts."