Free Press

U.S. Slides 13 Spots on Press Freedom Index

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Daniel R Blume

If it wasn't enough to see the United States slide in four rankings of economic freedom, Internet liberty, and government transparency last year, the Land of the Brave and Home of the Free (except where prohibited by law) is off to a swell start in 2014 by slipping 13 places on the World Press Freedom Index. Compiled by Reporters Without Borders, the Index keeps a running tally of governments' respect for journalistic freedomson matters ranging from legislative restrictions to outright whacking of reporters. The U.S. has taken a hit largely from the post-9/11 insistence on fetishizing claims of "national security" (Rep. Mike Rogers now wants to criminalize the publication of sensitive information like that released by Edward Snowden) and from the Obama administration's crusade against whistleblowers.

As the Index puts it:

Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it. Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.

This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.

US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a "shield law" to protect the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government.

The U.S, isn't the only backslider on the Index. France and the U.K. also lost position, though not by as much as the U.S. The European Union, as a whole, is suffering because "Membership negotiations are no longer necessarily accompanied by efforts to increase respect for civil liberties." As a result, several governments have taken advantage of a lack of outside pressure to crck down internally.

By contrast, Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway top the Index in first, second, and third places respectively. Of Finland, the Index notes the first-place ranking despite rarely enforced laws that criminalize defamation, including potential imprisonment of journalists, in certain circumstances. For perpetual complainers about "corporate news," the index also notes that, even though three companies dominate Finland's media, "there is a great deal of media pluralism despite the concentrated ownership."

Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea do a swell job of anchoring the last three places on the Index.

2014 World Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders

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  1. We don’t lose points for the press sucking the thorny cock of authority since 2009?

    1. No, because it’s consenual. It’s not like they’re being forced to give the current administration the longest, sloppiest blowjob in history.

    2. Yes, this should have been sliding since then due to the lackeys in the press here – especially if the note Finland has 3 corporations controlling the press

      Also, at risk of being called out as a statist, I don’t think the Bradley Manning prosecution is anti-free press. He was in the Army and stole classified info.

      1. especially if the note Finland has 3 corporations controlling the press

        And American lefties keep bringing up the bogeyman of so-called media concentration.

        1. It’s a LOL moment when they do. Comcast/NBC is a huge supporter and corporate sponsor of many lefty causes.

          Plus there are so many new media outfits available (TV, Radio, Internet) and easy access to foreign ones as well that that is just not an issue (RT and AJAM, anyone?)

          Lefties just don’t like that there is any non-left wing voices out there.

          1. This just in: Comcast to acquireTime Warner Cble

        2. And Finland only has five million people, so there’s that.

  2. If we’re not Number One on freedom lists, we’re fucking doing it wrong. Okay? Are we clear?

    1. ^This. Thank you.

      1. It’s our idiom. I mean, we could be sued for tarnishing the “America” trademark.

        1. Freedom means asking permission and obeying orders!

          Liberty is the anti-freedom!

    2. I could probably massage the numbers to get us a little closer.

      1. Hmmm…say, have you, uh, ever considered working for the Swiss?!

  3. Maybe we can build Libertopia in Namibia.

    1. They’ll pass us in economic freedom shortly.

      I wish I was kidding.

    2. What is Somalia now, chopped liver?

      1. Just TRY getting all the Somali permits you’d need for a project like Libertopia.

      2. 4th from last on the list of press freedom. Libertarian paradise!

  4. Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea do a swell job of anchoring the last three places on the Index.

    I’m sure we can catch up to them, just give it time.

    1. “Today Our Dear Leader President Obama signed several Executive Orders, including one that effectively cures baldness and another that mandates each American receive a free XBox 360. 10,000 cranes were reported to have taken to the skies above Washington during the signing ceremony.

      After impressing various foreign dignitaries with a performance of a piano concerto he wrote, President Obama also shot a 21 at Augusta National (a course designed by him personally when he was 6). He concluded the day by healing a crippled young girl in a wheelchair before retiring to Camp David for the weekend.”

      1. Esposito: From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. [Silence.] Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now. . .16 years old!

        1. Holy shit. Pro Libertate is old.

  5. How can this be?

    I mean, millions were freed from crappy individual health insurance plans!

    Millions more will soon be freed from crappy employer provided health insurance!

    And we’re all free to purchase mandatory health insurance from government approved sources!

    Freedom!

    1. 2 million will soon join the other 10s of millions who are free from jobs.

  6. Uh, European countries where you can be prosecuted for quoting the Bible, criticizing Islam, or making historical errors are freer than the United State?

    1. “February 28, 2013

      “Ottawa, Ontario ? The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Biblical speech opposing homosexual behavior, including in written form, is essentially a hate crime.

      “On Wednesday, the court upheld the conviction of activist William Whatcott, who found himself in hot water after distributing flyers regarding the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexuality throughout the Saskatoon and Regina neighborhoods in 2001 and 2002….

      “Another flyer, entitled Keep Homosexuality Out of Saskatoon’s Public Schools, was written in response to the recommendation of the Saskatoon School Board that homosexuality be included in school curriculum. The Supreme Court declared the document to be unlawful because it called the homosexual acts that would be taught to children “filthy,” and contended that children are more interested in playing Ken and Barbie than “learning how wonderful it is for two men to sodomize each other.” The justices ruled that because the use of the word “sodomy” only referred to “two men” and not also the sex acts of heterosexuals, it was a direct target against a specific group of people.”

      http://christiannews.net/2013/…..ate-crime/

      1. I thought Mark Steyn and Levant were able to muzzle or get rid of the human rights commission in Canada?

        1. Parliament abolished the Human Rights Commission’s censorship powers, however –

          “Producing and disseminating hate speech remains a crime in Canada, but regulating it will fall to the courts, not to human rights tribunals. Under the Criminal Code, spreading hate against identifiable groups can carry up to a two-year prison sentence.”

          http://news.nationalpost.com/2…..ights-act/

          1. Any Canadians want to say whether I got it right?

            1. Oops, the case I cited involved a Human Rights Commission, so it’s no longer a precedent:

              http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-c…..6/index.do

          2. The lesson here is the regulators and tribunals never go quietly into that good night.

            1. yes, you have to fight the good fight, but it only seems to slow the bad trends down.

              Glad HRC in Canada can’t run their star chambers any more at least.

              1. Nope, the Star Chamber is now just a judge in a bad mood.

              2. OK, here’s one from Jan. 31 – criminal prosecution is still an option:

                “The Calgary Police Service has charged former mayoral candidate Milan Papez with public incitement of hatred stemming from a protest Papez held in Calgary’s Chinatown area earlier this month….

                “[Papez’s] messages [on protest signs]…were targeted toward two specific individuals, according to a release, as well as targeting the Chinese community….

                “Police say the charges against Milan Papez fall under the Criminal Code of Canada’s public incitement of hatred by, “communicating statements in any public place ? incite hatred against any identifiable group when such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.””

                http://beaconnews.ca/blog/2014…..ate-crime/

      2. I’m just glad our betters are deciding where that fine line is between regular speech and “hate” speech. And that, being a straight white male, I can only ever be prosecuted by these laws but never protected.

        Fuck this pisses me off. It insights hate in me, in fact.

        1. It insights hate in me

          Typical straight white male reaction.

          1. What an inciteful comment. 😛

        2. Woah there. Somebody needs to report to re-education camp.

      3. What are they going to do next, exhume King James I and try his remains for anti-mutual behavior?

    2. Press Freedoms(tm), Eddie, not the little freedoms doled out to ordinary citizens.

      1. This is why we need a government licensing scheme for journalists.

        1. Well, how else will we know who get freedom and who doesn’t?

  7. We’re safer* every day.

    *They hate us for our freedoms!

  8. Obama administration’s crusade against whistleblowers.

    I caught the tail end of a whistleblower who was being interviewed on the local NPR station. The interviewer seemed genuinely puzzled that the whistleblower (name I didn’t catch who was initially prosecuted or targeted by the Bush administration, then hammered double-plus hard by the Obama admin) thought Obama was worse than Bush.

    The press… they’re so quaint sometimes.

    US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak

    The same journalists who keep demanding government sponsorship of the media, and refer to the 1st amendment in cautious, cultural terms and want people to start realizing that not everyone has a first amendment so we should curtail what comes out of our tweets and youtube accounts?

    1. There is also this recent comment from one of the FCC commissioners on a new “voluntary” program they are conducting on “editorial” discretion among news orgs:

      http://hotair.com/archives/201…..-and-bias/

  9. But on the other hand, the US still enjoys a pretty high standard of freedom of expression. Much higher than Europe and Canada for sure.

    Reporters Without Borders is the type of organization that wants more government regulation of the media with stuff like a Fairness Doctrine or more nationalized media outlets.

    1. They truly believe that with a nationalized media, it will finally be above politics and money!

  10. Caught your shtick on the Michael Garibaldi Show yesterday JD. Nice job. I was worried Jerry was going to come down on the other side of that topic. Sometimes he’s a bit unprincipled. Glad he didn’t.

    Hope your kid is feeling better.

    1. Look, it’s not his fault. You let Chekov brainfuck you and see what happens.

      1. I always wanted to get brainfucked by Lyta.

        1. I’m sure Jerry would’ve preferred that, too. Next time, he should let me represent him.

  11. These rankings appear to be about as meaningful as those “Top 20 Celebrities That Went Broke” lists that you see at the bottom on the NY Post’s website.

      1. Yeah. WTF is up with that?

  12. By contrast, Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway top the Index in first, second, and third places respectively

    There was a great article back in the 90s from an American journalist that lived in the Netherlands and discovered how provincial and small-minded the country’s press was. And how in lock-step agreement it was with government policy and action.

    1. Freedom of speech/press has historically been the one area we were head-and-shoulders beyond the rest of the world. Really, without that and the fact that the rest of the world isn’t terribly great on civil liberties, we’d be ranking even lower.

      Not that I take any particular ranking very seriously, given the usually biases that make these disputable, but even with perfect knowledge, I think we all know we’re sliding.

      1. We’re absolutely sliding. It’s just a fun parlour game when your slide is compared to other nations.

        I don’t think we need to compare ourselves to other nations. The U.S. is sliding compared to itself over time.

        1. See, this is an idea whose time has come. Create a set of objective standards of freedom, probably both a bare minimum and an ideal benchmark, and rate nations against themselves over time. That would be a much more relevant indicator of how far we still have to go.

          1. This week, on Liberty Idol, we see which of our competing countries respects the right to privacy the most.

          2. That’s how Paul. does it.

            When I was 11 years old, I used to ride my bike to the outer county– in a state where counties are BIG.

            I don’t let my 11 year old daughter leave the yard.

            Plus, I have to work for my healthcare. LOSS OF FREEDOM!

        2. That’s the unkindest cut of them all–the comparison to what we once had.

          It bothers me that where we have advanced in liberties (e.g., less government-sanctioned oppression of disfavored identity groups) is taken by itself as an absolute advance by some, but the problem is that we are increasingly beholden to a government without restraint to continue recognizing and respecting those newer rights along with all of the old ones.

          So, netted out, we’re far worse off today, rights-wise, than we once were. Because the government is close to the point where it could flip a switch and shut down any number of rights, because there is nothing generally recognized as preventing that. However you view the Constitution, it clearly used to serve that limiting function.

          1. However you view the Constitution, it clearly used to serve that limiting function.

            There was a time, my history books tell me, that someone high up in government thought a constitutional amendment was required to ban a substance.

            1. Nothing screams out much louder that the Constitution is dead or at least comatose than the fact that no one much talks about amending the Constitution any longer.

              It’s either all about getting a clear constitutional principle twisted obviously out of any legitimate meaning to allow government to do whatever it wants, or, worse yet, ignoring the Constitution completely.

              1. And nobody says “it’s a free country” anymore. That’s the bellwether for me.

                1. I try to say it once or twice a week to total strangers.

                  It’s funny how shifty and nervous they get.

                  “May I take your picture?”

                  “Sure; it’s a free country!”

                  1. Of course, “it’s” can mean “it is” or “it was.”

              2. Nothing screams out much louder that the Constitution is dead or at least comatose than the fact that no one much talks about amending the Constitution any longer.

                It’s either all about getting a clear constitutional principle twisted obviously out of any legitimate meaning to allow government to do whatever it wants, or, worse yet, ignoring the Constitution completely.

                By my count we are now at the third longest amount of time we’ve ever gone without amending the constitution.

                The longest period ended slavery. Very good amendment.

                Second longest gave us the income tax. Very bad amendment.

                So I gather the next one is either going to be really good or is really going to suck.

                1. 1992 was the last amendment. Pretty dry stuff:

                  Delays laws affecting Congressional salary from taking effect until after the next election of representatives.

                  However, this is a fun fact:

                  Date submitted: September 25, 1789
                  Date ratified: May 7, 1992

                  Hmm.

          2. That’s the unkindest cut of them all–the comparison to what we once had.

            Well, black people had it pretty bad in many places up to, say, 1965.

            Gay people could be arrested for sodomy, even in the privacy of their own homes, up until 2003.

            Free speech was pretty dismal until Lenny Bruce started fighting his obscenity convictions in the sixties.

            So, very much a mixed bag.

            1. That’s what I was talking about above about advances. We’ve had them, in both ending some forms of discrimination and, in many respects, in the freedom of speech. But that’s all very much weakened in my mind by the huge increases in the power of the state. If we keep going this way, those gains will mean nothing.

  13. There used to be this great joke.

    AMERICAN: I can go to any street corner in Washington, DC and say “the President of the United States is an idiot!”

    SOVIET: So what? I, too, can go to any street corner in Moscow and say “the President of the United States is an idiot!”

    Of course, I don’t know if that’s still legal in Washington streets.

    1. Racist hate speech.

      Every country has city they make fun of. In America, they make fun of Cleveland.

      In Soviet Union, we make fun of Cleveland.

      1. You know you don’t live in a real city until the river catches on fire… over and over.

    2. Probably illegal – I read a week or so ago Obama approval in WDC is 81 fucking %!!!

      That astounds me and I know the area well and have family there.

      1. DC as a municipality is a corrupt shithole. Where better for Obama to get his strongest support?

        1. Looks at you with narrowing eyes

          /bitch set me up

          As I said, know the city well. A true lib paradise, everybody rates each other on their law school, unless you are black and poor and live east of Georgia Ave – then its based on your corner rep.

          Huge income inequality, but they almost all agree, Obama is the bomb.

          1. +1 Marion Barry

            1. +1 two term Marion Barry.

              You know who else won a second term despite the obvious economic conditions around him?

              1. Ray Nagin! And look what just happened to him!

                Oh, I see who you mean. Well, it’s early days yet. Let’s see what happens after he leaves office.

    3. It’s a good old joke. But humor aside, I don’t think you could easily do it on your own initiative in Moscow. Any political activity not organized by the Communist party and its affiliates was suspicious.

  14. But…. Boooosh?
    *(it dies not with a bang, but a whimper)

  15. Oh god. I just had a horrible thought.

    You know how the recently remade ‘Dungeon Keeper’ as a horrible ‘energy’ game?

    ‘Lemmings’ is next.

    1. You mean you have to ration energy to win? I saw ads for that as a ‘Droid app, that what you talking about.

  16. OT (& apologies if already covered), wind farms may increase regional temps:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..121801.htm

  17. Yes, but we still have a “satisfactory” ranking.

    In your face, Senegal!

    1. Uragauy keeps coming up as exit landing place. Same color as the US. But the president of Uraguay, Jos? Mujica, walks to the grocery store.

  18. I have mentioned this before but I’ll repeat it anyway.

    You cannot stand on a street corner in any US metropolitan area with a sign the reads “No Vote for Women”. Go with that thought experiment for a moment. Granted, this is foolish, but women’s suffrage was openly debated less than a century ago. If you did this today the cops would haul you off to a psychiatric clinic for medication and supervision.

      1. Is the propeller on your thinking cap broken?

        1. Yours is whizzing at a very, very high speed.

    1. widget, do you have any evidence that that is so? Westboro is allowed to do their “God Says Kill Fags” protests, so there are still some protections for controversial speech.

      1. “God Says Kill Fags” is not a political statement.

        1. A sign that read “Gay men should be allowed to serve with front line combat troops” would be a political statement.

    2. If you did this today the cops would haul you off to a psychiatric clinic for medication and supervision.

      Doubtful. More likely they’d arrest you for a bunch of charges revolving around your daring to exercise the rights protected by the 1A without first asking permission. I’m sure it takes at least ten permits and licenses to legally stand on a street corner with a sign. Not to mention the fact that you’d be loitering.

      1. you’d be loitering

        Not if you sat on a sidewalk bench with a sign.

    3. You’re all wrong, as long as your sign doesn’t mention a candidate by name within 60 days of an election, you’re all good.

  19. Senate just approved raising the debt ceiling, looks like McConnell and Cornyn joined the Dems to turn back a filibuster

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..afternoon/

    1. Those fucking Austrians are at it again.

    2. Been nice knowin’ ya Mitch. Well, not really.

      — 2014 GOP primary voters

  20. Reporters without borders using the proven racist Mercator projection for their map — uncredible.

  21. I believe the entire premise of this story is in error. When I visited the web site for Reporters Without Borders, according to their 2013 ratings the United States moved UP 15 places from 47 in 2012 to 32 in 2013:

    http://en.rsf.org/press-freedo…..,1054.html

    I do believe a retraction is in order.

    1. Ooooooooooor it could be that Reporters Without Borders puts out a report on the 2013 year … and labels it the 2014 report because it was published in 2014.

      And fails to include the “2014” figures under “previous years.”

      ::insert inarticulate sputtering here::

  22. We have been losing our freedom of the press?

    Odd. I haven’t seen anything about it in the paper…

  23. American Tyranny

    Under both Democrats and Republicans, the country continues evolving into an economic, political, and social tyranny (www.nationonfire.com). Examples? 1) The IRS gaining access to all your financial information without a court-issued warrant. 2) The USA, using its economic might, imposing extra-territoriality onto small, defenseless countries from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland. 3) The executive branch imprisoning American citizens indefinitely without right of trial or even habeas corpus as guaranteed in the Constitution . . . and without a declared war. 4) The President sending paid-assassins to murder U.S. citizens with no oversight from Congress or anyone else.

    We never should forget that unwarranted loss of liberty for any one of us . . . no matter who or why . . . is loss of liberty for all of us. It begins as a narrow path trod by only a few under seemingly compelling conditions but evolves into a wide toll-road trod by us all under arbitrary and capricious whims of those who hope to destroy “White America” and are succeeding … ask Obama’s preacher of more than twenty years.

    The cost of the toll? Our individual right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. There is a better way (www.inescapableconsequences.com).

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