Tuesday, October 24, 2006


We're 53rd!!!

Reporters Without Borders had just released their so-called Worlwide Press Freedom index 2006. The U.S. is ranked 53rd. Here’s why:

“Deterioration in the United States and Japan, with France also slipping
The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.”

Now when you read a line like “…the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.”, you are on notice that this is not a serious bit of analysis but rather a staged piece of propaganda. I mean, does anyone really believe there are 52 countries more amenable to a free press? Do U.S.-based reporters actually sit around longing for the press freedom of Bosnia (#19) and Slovakia (#8)?

Being a so-called journalist isn’t a license to run amok. Josh Wolf has a tape of demonstrations at which several police officers were hurt. The prosecutor bringing this case to a grand jury thinks the video may shed some clues on who was involved. Josh has already released part of the video on his blog (The Revolution Will Be Televised) but is reluctant to release the full, unedited version. His status as a blogger should give him no less rights than a cameraman for ABC but no more rights than Abraham Zapruder.

Sami al-Haj was first detained by Pakistani authorities before being transferred to U.S. authorities. He is surely not being held because the US thinks that the detention of an assistant Al-Jazeera cameraman will cripple word-wide reporting efforts. I’ve discussed the case of Bilal Hussein before (The AP's version of breaking news) and I reiterate my faith in our military to do the right thing vice the AP.

The Washington Post has the story here: U.S. Rank on Press Freedom Slides Lower I’m guessing that since this index does not reflect well on the US or the Bush administration, no opposing viewpoints were deemed necessary.

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