David Cameron says Trump’s ‘dangerous’ campaign against fake news masks the real enemy: Russia

David Cameron.

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David Cameron.
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Thomson Reuters

  • Former UK Prime Minister unloaded on Donald Trump’s use of the term “fake news.”
  • David Cameron said it was “deflecting attention” from Russia’s attempt to undermine US democracy.
  • It was Cameron’s first public lecture since leaving office in 2016.

Britain’s former Prime Minister has accused Donald Trump of “deflecting attention” from the abuses of Russia on American democracy in his first public lecture since leaving office last year.

Speaking in London on Wednesday evening, David Cameron unloaded on Trump’s “dangerous” use of the phrase “fake news,” and told the US president to focus on Russian bots and trolls “targeting your democracy” instead.

The former Prime Minister said:

“When Donald Trump uses the term ‘fake news’ to describe CNN and the BBC, that is not just a questionable political tactic. It’s actually dangerous.

“Of course broadcasters make mistakes and it’s right they correct them. But what is being attempted here goes far beyond that. It’s an attempt to question the whole legitimacy of organisations that have an important role in our democracy. […]

“President Trump: ‘Fake news’ is not broadcasters criticising you, it’s Russian bots and trolls targeting your democracy, pumping out untrue stories day after day, night after night.

“When you misappropriate the term fake news, you are deflecting attention from real abuses. Ignoring what’s happening on social media is facilitating a form of corruption that is undermining democracy.”

Cameron and his wife, Samantha, shortly after his resignation speech.

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Cameron and his wife, Samantha, shortly after his resignation speech.
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REUTERS/Phil Noble

Cameron attacks Russia

Cameron’s speech homed in on Russia, suggesting that the country won its bid to host the 2018 World Cup due to bribery. In 2010, FIFA awarded Russia the right to host the event in 2018 – a contest the UK government, under Cameron’s premiership, had hoped to win.

He said: “Even though we had the best plan, the best stadiums, the most enthusiastic supporters… We didn’t even make it to the second round. President Putin actually boycotted the whole thing because he said it was riddled with corruption.

“He was right – it was. And – let me put it like this – I am sure he wasn’t completely surprised when Russia actually won the bid. You couldn’t make it up.”

Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, also claimed two years ago that the decision to host the upcoming World Cup in Russia was made before voting had taken place.

‘The cancer of corruption is developing’

In his lecture to Transparent International UK, a nonprofit investigating corruption in Britain, Cameron claimed that the phenomenon of corruption was “metastasizing.”

“Why is this the subject of my first public lecture in Britain since leaving office?” the former Prime Minister said. “The fact is that I am worried. The cancer of corruption is developing. It is metastasizing.”

He also defended a hot mic gaffe in 2016, when he was caught describing Nigeria and Afghanistan “fantastically corrupt.”

He said on Wednesday he was “rather embarrassed,” but that “there is such a thing as being too open and transparent.” He added that Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, told him at the time he was “absolutely right.”