EDITOR’S NOTE: Barack Obama’s presidency has been a terrible disappointment in many respects, and his anti-human rights policy around the world (particularly in Africa) and his attack on America’s free press are setting the clock back on freedom. Instead of advancing the cause of freedom, the Obama Administration is undermining it. It is disheartening to read the following article on the state of free press in the U.S. and other superpower nations.
China and Russia Aren’t the Only Major Countries Repressing Journalism
By PETER OSNOS | THE ATLANTIC
While much of the recent attention focused on journalism has been about how to make this venerable trade financially viable in the digital age, as 2013 draws to a close, news gathering faces challenges that money cannot resolve. Governments around the globe are moving seriously to restrict journalism. Here, in brief, are observations about how three of the most powerful nations have been putting pressure on the media.
In China, the attempted intimidation of foreign correspondents is at a level unprecedented in the country’s decades-long ascension to superpower status. In Russia, Vladimir Putin’s contempt for a free-wheeling media has reached the point where he summarily shut down the country’s respected state news agency. And, in the United States, the Obama administration has imposed harsh legal penalties on officials suspected of leaking to the press. The policies of the Chinese and Russian governments, reflecting the deeply ingrained, ideological, and political character of those states, represent a tradition of media suppression. But it is astounding to read the extent to which reporters in Washington are being denied access to officials who run serious risks for talking to them.
The notion that actions in the United States could bear any comparison to China and Russia seems inconceivable. Yet the opening paragraph of a report this fall for the Committee to Protect Journalists by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, was devastating by American standards:
In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues. … [continue reading]