Yes, you read that right. The President of the United States threatened a Time magazine photographer with prison for apparently taking a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. During an interview in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump said, “Here’s a letter, OK, now I’m going to show you this letter. So this was written by Kim Jong-un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.” After being asked a later question about imprisoned aides, Trump responded, “Well, you can go to prison instead…if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially.”
“[T]he president’s rhetorical attacks continue to foster a climate in which trust in journalists is eroding and violence against them is growing. More than a quarter of Americans—and a plurality of Republicans—now agree that ‘the news media is the enemy of the American people’ and ‘the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.’ A worldwide surge of attacks has made this the most dangerous year for journalists on record. This is particularly true in parts of the world where pursuing the truth already carries great risks, as news reporters and editors experience rising levels of censorship, harassment, imprisonment, and murder.”
“If Jamal and his principles have any humanitarian and moral worth, this is the time to speak up. To support the struggle for democracy in the Arab world, isn’t it crucial to speak up against his violent death? If people of virtue don’t stand up today for a man who defended such values and fought to advance them in his country, then who else is going to do it?”
“While serving Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied openly, flagrantly and repeatedly to the American people. She has shown no remorse, remarking on Thursday that she has no regrets. Consistent to the end, she’s still lying: ‘I still contend that we are the most accessible White House.’ Sanders had a front row seat to what Trump was doing and she did nothing to stop him. She allowed herself to become an instrument of propaganda and an amplifier of extremism. That is her legacy.”
According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World data, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade, with new forms of repression taking hold in open societies and authoritarian states alike. The trend is most acute in Europe, previously a bastion of well-established freedoms, and in Eurasia and the Middle East, where many of the world’s worst dictatorships are concentrated.
Back in February, Univision anchor and journalist, Jorge Ramos, held an interview with Nicolas Maduro. During the contentious interview, Ramos tried giving Maduro a list of political prisoners currently held in Venezuela and also showed Maduro a video of Venezuelans on the street rummaging through trash trying to find something to eat. At that point in the interview, Maduro walked out and his entourage took the memory cards from the cameras. Brave, unnamed insiders eventually gave the video back to Univision.
Julian Assange is showing all the symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to psychological torture and should not be extradited to the US, according to a senior UN expert who visited him in prison. Nils Melzer, UN’s special rapporteur on torture, is expected to make his appeal not to extradite to the UK government on Friday.
In October 2017, the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, known for her scoops on alleged corruption at the highest levels of the government and beyond, was killed by a car bomb. Her assassination remains unsolved. If the report had been about any other country in western Europe, heads would roll, governments would collapse, and the international community might consider the country a pariah. Instead, the report was about Malta, the smallest member of the EU. Does anyone care?
“Populism, strictly speaking, means appealing to the man in the street whose needs or grievances have been ignored by elites. But if you look at how more entrenched populist parties actually go about appealing to the masses in Hungary, Poland, and Italy, they start by enlisting the elites to tell the man in the street what his needs and grievances are, then catering to those. Inevitably, they proceed by coopting or bankrupting journalists, if not threatening violence against any who withstand those tactics and continue to put up a fight.”
It’s been a year since Loujain Alhathloul was detained and arrested for leading a movement to end Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving and its strict rules against women’s everyday activities without approval from a male “guardian.” She was jailed and tortured and remains in custody. Her siblings are in the U.S. this week to accept a freedom award on her behalf…and to keep her plight and that of other Saudi writers in the news.
The Swedish authorities announced on Monday that they would reopen an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who is serving a prison term in Britain for jumping bail as the United States seeks his extradition for his role in a huge breach of classified data.
“The White House eliminated most briefings and severely restricted access to official events. And this week came the coup de grace: After covering four presidents, I received an email informing me that Trump’s press office had revoked my White House credential. I’m not the only one. I was part of a mass purge of ‘hard pass’ holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all six of The Post’s White House correspondents. White House officials then chose which journalists would be granted ‘exceptions.’ It did this over objections from news organizations and the White House Correspondents’ Association.”
Singapore’s ruling party defended its planned bill to combat “fake news” amid continued debate about who gets to define what’s true and false. Under a new bill backed by the government, it will be government ministers who make that call. “Free speech should not be affected by this bill,” Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in parliament this week. “We are talking here about falsehoods, we are talking about bots, we are talking about trolls, we are talking about fake accounts, and so on.”
Two Reuters journalists locked up in Myanmar for more than 500 days are now free. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who had been incarcerated since being charged with “unlawfully divulging state secrets,” were released Tuesday after serving seven months of a seven-year sentence. The pair had been investigating the murders of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys who were killed by security forces and their coverage was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.
“There is no way to have a functioning democracy without a thriving press. One of the great missions of the press is to hold power accountable by revealing what those in power would rather hide. Corruption depends on concealment. Accountability hinges on disclosure…A free and fearless press is the greatest ally to a free and prosperous people.”
“It’s hard to describe just how remarkable this transformation has been. I’m still not used to freedom of expression, but I’m doing my best to catch up. A few days ago, when I wrote an article on the protests, all my sources allowed me to use their names and take their pictures. I’ve been a journalist for eight years, and this is the first time I’ve seen Sudanese willing to do this. The fear of retaliation has vanished — at least for the moment.”
Prominent young journalist Lyra McKee was killed during a night of rioting in the city of Londonderry, in what police in Northern Ireland have described as a “terrorist incident.” In 2016, McKee was named as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 in European media.
“In many ways, the press is the savior of the republic and one of the cornerstone ingredients that has led the great American experiment to prosperity and power over its 243 years. The press may be flawed, it may offer bias, it may be self-righteous and sanctimonious and highly critical, but it is serving the exact purpose that the country’s Founders wanted. The press, and I mean all of it, is the guardian of individual liberty.”
With the arrest in London of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and the news of a criminal case against him in the United States, anyone expecting him to appear in an American courtroom is in for a long and difficult process: Extraditing him will not be quick, and it will definitely not be easy.
How far does freedom of the press go? Not as far as hacking. Some press freedom advocates have expressed concern that prosecuting Julian Assange represents a violation of freedom of the press. But he’s not being charged with publishing secrets but for conspiring with Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, to illegally hack a government computer to obtain national security information.
No, not Donald Trump’s idea of “fake news.” The real kind: disinformation designed to obfuscate, bad data from “official” sources, and lies intended to create a false narrative. Globally, research shows they lead to the election of incompetent — and perhaps corrupt or self-dealing — governments.
President Trump on Thursday lashed out at a New York Times story revealing that several members on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team are apparently dissatisfied with the attorney general’s portrayal of their findings. Trump accused the paper of fabricating its sources (without providing evidence) and repeated his false claim that the Times had issued an apology to him for inaccurate and “very bad” reporting on him.
“Policy clashes between a president and his Cabinet are normal. What’s abnormal is for them to be waged in public as they have been under [Donald] Trump. In theory, the good thing about regular press briefings at the highest levels is that they help an administration maintain and develop coherent, intelligible, and defensible policies—policies that can be successfully communicated in conversations with foreign powers. Whether you agree with or oppose Trump, the United States would benefit from a president who conveyed policies with greater dependability.”
A Republican state lawmaker has filed legislation that would create a state ethics board for journalists in Georgia. The legislation would authorize a board to create “canons of ethics,” develop a voluntary accreditation system, set up an investigating mechanism and sanction violations by accredited members.
“Perhaps cowed by the criticism — which came from the left as well as the right, most notably from author Matt Taibbi — some news organizations may back down from aggressive coverage of [Donald] Trump. That would be a serious mistake. With some regrettable and damaging exceptions — individual stories that seemingly went too far — reality-based news outlets have done quite well on this story. And it’s far from over. So this is no time to retreat.”
Television producers received an email on Monday from Donald Trump’s campaign director of communications, questioning the credibility of certain guests — nearly all Democratic lawmakers and officials. The email accuses them of “vigorously and repeatedly” making up stories Trump and Russia, and says there “must be introspection from the media who facilitated the reckless statements and a serious evaluation of how such guests are considered and handled in the future.”
Lachlan Murdoch is taking over Fox, and Donald Trump could be his first problem. Several Fox News staffers said they are distrustful of Lachlan’s devotion to the cable news channel, and some call Lachlan “Fredo” behind his back, a reference to a weak-willed son of the Godfather. The opinionated, conservative faction of the company that supports Trump is already testing his authority, and how Lachlan handles the pressure remains to be seen.
“Just after decrying fake news, Trump—a day after his White House breached whatever norms remained and actively encouraged people to read a mass-murderer’s manifesto—made some fake news of his own about big tech’s supposed ‘collusion’ to censor conservatives. ‘Something has to be going on,’ he said, as though he had a law like Putin’s already. ‘The hatred they have for a certain group of people that happen to be in power.'”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on Donald Trump’s dream legislation — a law that enables Russian authorities to block websites and hand out punishment for “fake news” and material deemed “insulting” to the general public.
Donald Trump was angry this weekend, but apparently not so much at the terrorist who killed 50 Muslims in New Zealand on Friday. White House reporter Stephen Collinson writes: “In a stunning display of personal grievances aired on Twitter, Trump demanded the return of a supportive Fox News host who was missing from her usual spot on Saturday after verbally attacking an American Muslim lawmaker. He escalated his beyond-the-grave feud with late Sen. John McCain. He complained at being lampooned by NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Trump also fulminated against the Russia investigation and ‘Radical Left Democrats’ and took shots at an Ohio union boss.”
The U.S. government created a secret database of 10 journalists, a U.S. attorney, and 48 people from the U.S. and other countries, labeled as organizers, instigators, or roles “unknown,” who were tied to the migrant caravan. The intelligence gathering efforts were done under the umbrella of “Operation Secure Line,” an operation designated to monitor the caravan. The identified people were targeted for screening at the border, and in some cases, alerts were placed on their passports.
“What Fox News has become is destructive. To state the obvious: Democracy, if it’s going to function, needs to be based on a shared set of facts, and the news media’s role is to seek out and deliver those facts. Most news organizations take that seriously, though they may flounder badly at times. When they do, they generally try to correct themselves — that’s why you see editor’s notes, lengthy corrections, on-air acknowledgments, suspensions and even firings of errant news people. Not at Fox News.”
“‘The New Yorker’ alleges that Trump pushed the Justice Department to challenge the [AT&T and Time Warner] merger simply because he disliked CNN, then a subsidiary of Time Warner…We are once again in banana republic territory: The president of the United States may not use the laws of the United States to harass the media based on his personal, petty displeasure with what he views as unwarranted criticism. That’s not how it works here.”
“It has been a month since the Trump administration flouted a legal requirement to report to the Senate on the responsibility of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Rather than comply with the law, on Monday it dispatched midlevel officials from the State and Treasury departments to obfuscate before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
Author and frequent guest on Fox, Bernie Goldberg, detailed how Fox News executives refused to allow conservatives to criticize Trump and other right-wing figures, eventually leading to him leaving the network. Goldberg also claims top figures at the network sought retribution against him after he complained Sean Hannity and other hosts were only flattering Trump during interviews rather than pressing them journalistically in any way.
Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the AT&T-Time Warner merger may constitute an abuse of power. “If proven, such an attempt to use presidential authority to seek retribution for the exercise of First Amendment rights would unquestionably be grounds for impeachment,” tweeted Trump critic George Conway, a conservative attorney who is married to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. At the very least, the Trump’s interest in the merger is yet another investigatory target for House Democrats.
Writers from Reuters, AP, and Bloomberg Business were excluded from going with the press pool to cover the dinner between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. The reason given is that reporters from those outlets shouted questions during the first “pool spray” when the two leaders shook hands.
“I was expelled from Venezuela on Tuesday after a contentious interview with Nicolás Maduro, the country’s strongman. He stood up in the middle of our conversation, and his security agents confiscated our television cameras, the memory cards, and our cellphones. Yes, Mr. Maduro stole the interview so nobody could watch it…What is Mr. Maduro so afraid of? He should release the interview for the world to see. If he does not, all he has proved is that he is behaving exactly like a dictator.”
Univision says journalist Jorge Ramos and a TV crew have been “arbitrarily detained” in Caracas, Venezuela. The network says they were interviewing President Nicolas Maduro, but he didn’t like their questions. The U.S. State Department says it has been told they “are being held against their will” by Maduro and says, “We insist on their immediate release.”
“The fellowship will provide an independent platform for journalists and writers to offer their perspectives from parts of the world where freedom of expression is threatened or suppressed. The Post has named Hala Al-Dosari, an award-winning activist, scholar, and writer from Saudi Arabia, the first Jamal Khashoggi fellow.”