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US Press Freedom Ranking Just Dropped, Despite 'Strong Track Record'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. protects the free press, but the country's ranking lags behind dozens of other nations.
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US Press Freedom Ranking Just Dropped, Despite 'Strong Track Record'

The U.S. State Department commemorated this year's World Press Freedom Day with some praise for how America treats the media.

In a short statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson applauded journalists as "the guardians of democratic values and ideals."

And he maintained that the U.S. has "a strong track record" of protecting and advocating for free press around the globe.

But that strong track record has actually been getting weaker.

The U.S. currently comes in at No. 43 in the World Press Freedom Index, two spots lower than it ranked last year.

Reporters Without Borders points to President Donald Trump as one of several reasons for the decline.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the media during his presidential campaign and has continued to as president, even calling legitimate outlets "fake news."

"A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are; they are the enemy of the people," Trump said.

But former President Barack Obama's relationship with the press apparently wasn't great, either.

Many critics have accused the Obama administration of undermining freedom of the press by cracking down on whistleblowers and leakers.

One New York Times reporter even dubbed Obama's presidency "the most anti-press administration since the Nixon administration."