'Handmaid's Tale' author: Trump administration's tactics are 'dangerous'
© Taylor Lorenz

"The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood referred to the Trump administration's tactics in dealing with the news media as "dangerous" on Wednesday at an event honoring free speech.

"When democracy is in retreat, the first thing authoritarians do is silence those who are telling stories they dislike," Atwood said at the PEN Literary Gala on Tuesday. "While the United States isn't putting reporters in prison yet, the tactics of the current administration are dangerous." 

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Those tactics, Atwood said, include attacking reporters by name, threatening to retaliate against coverage that's perceived as unfavorable and branding certain news organizations as "the enemies of the American people."

" 'Fake News' is now an international knee-jerk response by strongmen and dictators seeking to discredit accurate reporting," the author said, referring to President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE's frequent moniker for a number of the nation's leading news organizations, including CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Atwood's remarks come as relations between the Trump administration and the news media continue to deteriorate. 

"60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl said on Tuesday that Trump once told her that he attacks the press so no one will believe the negative stories written about him.

Atwood has not shied away from criticizing the administration in the past. 

The author of the popular dystopian novel said earlier this month that the U.S. is becoming more "Gilead-like" under Trump, referencing the post-cataclysmic America depicted in her novel "The Handmaid's Tale" and the hit TV show by the same name.

She has also compared Trump to the theocratic dictator who runs Gilead in her novel.

"When it ['The Handmaid's Tale'] first came out, it was viewed as being far-fetched,” she said last year. 

"However, when I wrote it, I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that human beings had not already done somewhere at sometime."

"You are seeing a bubbling up of it now," she continued, alluding to Trump's policies. "It's back to 17th century puritan values of New England at that time in which women were pretty low on the hierarchy."