Censorship

The Government's War on Freedom of the Press

Press freedom has declined in recent years.

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The U.S. plummeted to a dismal 49th place on the Reporters Without Borders annual Press Freedom Index, marking the country's second lowest ranking since the list was created in 2002 and its lowest since 2006. Other countries ranked in the 40s and 50s include Haiti, Mongolia, and Chile.

The index cited "judicial harassment" of New York Times reporter James Risen, the arbitrary arrest of at least 15 journalists during the Ferguson, Missouri clashes, and the fact that U.S. journalists are still not legally entitled to protect sources who reveal confidential information about their work.

The U.S.'s slip in press freedom rankings mirrors its seven-place drop in Freedom House's Global Press Freedom Index from 2013-2014, though the country still ranks among the 14 percent of countries whose press is classified as "free" in the latter scale.

Reality may be even worse than the rankings suggest. Legal protections for the press have only eroded since the 2006 trough year when the Bush Administration threatened to prosecute Risen for publishing stories chronicling warrantless wiretapping of citizens' phone calls.

Since the Obama Administration took power, it has used the Espionage Act to prosecute data leakers a record seven times—more than every other president combined in the law's nearly 100-year history—a Fox News journalist has been spied on by the Justice Department under the justification that he's a criminal conspirator, Wikileaks creator Julian Assange has been declared "a hi-tech terrorist," and the Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court ruling against Risen stating that the First Amendment doesn't protect him from refusing to testify about a whistleblower that allegedly leaked classified information about the CIA's efforts to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.

Reports from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald even suggest that media outlets routinely vet their articles with government officials before publishing them.

"This consultative process with the government, The Guardian lawyers explained, is what enables newspapers to demonstrate they have no intent to harm national security by publishing top secret documents, and thus lack the requisite criminal intent to be prosecuted," Greenwald wrote in his 2014 book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, explaining that papers such as The New York Times and Washington Post often spend weeks having controversial stories reviewed by the feds.

Greenwald scoffs at what he regards as a subservient process, and even wrote that he threatened his editors at The Guardian that he would publish the stories about the National Security Administration's massive surveillance system on his own website if they kowtowed to the government.

What's scary, however, is the fact that no one knows what would have happened to Greenwald had he had made good on his threats, because there are no court precedents on the issue of publishing information sensitive to national security. A provision of the Espionage Act outlaws "unauthorized communication" of national defense information, and some have argued that it could indeed be used to punish the media for publishing classified information, regardless of what the First Amendment says.

So far, none of the law's targets have been journalists. Since the "unauthorized communication" provision has never been tested against the media, watchdogs have no idea where they stand with respect to the law. Who knows what the courts might rule if such an issue is brought before them now?

Many people mistakenly think that the American press is protected by the 1971 decision in the famous Pentagon Papers case, where the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government did not have the authority to prevent The New York Times from printing classified documents revealing that the military had secretly bombed Cambodia and Laos in the Vietnam War, among other transgressions. However, the Pentagon Papers case only raised the issue of whether the U.S. had the power to issue an injunction against publication, not whether it could criminally prosecute someone after the fact. We still don't know whether such a charge would withstand court scrutiny.

The inconclusive ruling even prompted legal scholars Harold Edgar and Benno Schmidt Jr. to declare that the Espionage Act remained a "loaded gun pointed at newspapers and reporters who publish foreign policy and defense secrets" in their 1973 analysis of the case in Columbia Law Review. Fast-forward four decades, and the government seems to have taken the safety off.

Granted, there have been a few victories for the press this century. In 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that a reporter wouldn't be held liable for broadcasting a conversation that had been illegally taped, and in 2009 the government dropped its case against two lobbyists charged under the Espionage Act for essentially doing what (good) journalists do: Trying to get government officials to reveal secret information.

Those victories are small ones, though, when one considers the overall decline in press freedom since the RWB first created its rankings. In another 10 years, a journalist like Greenwald could be collecting his or her Pulitzer from behind bars if the downward trend continues.

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183 responses to “The Government's War on Freedom of the Press

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  2. Which is worse: the spam, or Agile Cyborg’s acid-laced rants?

    1. I get something useful out of AC’s posts. Not sure what it is exactly, but they do have a calming effect.

      1. A calming effect is never to be shrugged aside. Especially because if the category were expanded from “freedom of the press” to “freedom of expression,” the US would predictably be even lower on this list prepared by one of them there liberal organizations. Take those inappropriate Gmail parodies of a well-connected academic that prosecutors criminalized in New York. See the documentation at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        We do a damn good job of getting rid of offensive speech in this country, and we should be proud of it. Just like we’re proud of our borders.

    2. AC’s psychedelic raving are the best thing ever. Stop being such a party-pooper.

    3. I adore AG. I have this half cooked theory that he was conceived by way of Warty shoving a 3D printer up the ass of Douglas Adams’ ghost before brutalizing said ass. Warty then took the fetus and placed it in Bender’s stomach after the seed takes hold. Five minutes later, AG bursts out of Bender, still covered in oily after birth, yet fully grown, blurping and bleeping some of the most puzzling, yet oddy beautiful poetry on the plant. The world would be a far less interesting place without him.

      1. Whoa, I had the exact same theory.

        1. True, it flies in the face of coherent thought but, it’s the only explanation for his existence I can come up with.

      2. *AC
        *oddly

        Jesus, shake off the hangover and get your act together.

  3. But those that publish the facts about the federal government’s wrongdoings and illegal activities should be punished because it sheds light on said illegal activities as well as making it more challenging to conduct the same wrongdoinfs in the future. – government position

  4. What a joke. This is like Amnesty International breathlessly pissing and moaning about Gitmo on page 1 while blandly condemning North Korea’s govt feeding random people to dogs in a one-paragraph blurb on page 27. They are obviously monkeying with the scale so that the US appears bad because they know we give a damn about freedom of the press here.

    1. So, then, you think this sounds like 99% of the shit that comes out of the UN?

      1. Please do not engage that fuckwit.

        1. That’s not very pluralistic of you. I’m going to sicc RWB on you for that.

        2. You need to check your non-fuckwit privilege.

        3. I won’t. But he does have a point. I’m not saying there aren’t problems in the US, but these rankings are absurd.

          1. Having admitted that I brought information and insight to the conversation that nobody else dared to, you still agree to abide by the Reason groupthink commenter boycott?

            Sad.

            1. Yep, definitely Tulpa.

            2. No, I really don’t do that. I’m just not inclined to get into what’s already a bit ugly.

              1. And yet you condone the ones who make it ugly.

                I’m just here to contribute to the discussion.

                1. So you condone the US statists who uglify press freedom simply because worse ugly already exists?

            3. we’ll add you to the list alongside stopped clocks and blind squirrels. Strive to be a better troll.

      2. What do you expect from the Democracy of Dictators.

    2. I tend to think that the US is graded on a harsher scale than other nations.

      However, it deserves to be graded thus.

      For one thing, it boasts of near-absolutism of its 1st Amendment, so a stricter standard should apply.

      Certainly the US government’s behavior deserves a pretty severe decline in ranking. Obama has doubled Espionage Act prosecutions to prevent Americans from finding out what his government is doing. More recently we have learned that it is well-nigh impossible to find out how often cops shoot Americans.

      The fact is that, in 2015, lots of nations have something approaching a free press. Clearly, press freedoms in the US are deteriorating while those in other nations are improving. A greater concern to me is that mainstream media functions as a public relations outlet for government and re-inforcer of political correctness.

      1. I tend to think that the US is graded on a harsher scale than other nations.

        However, it deserves to be graded thus.

        Exactly. I’m a free born man of the USA. Someone asks me who’s in charge of me, I spit on the ground and say “That sumbitch ain’t been born.” This bullshit I hear, especially from so called patriots, that as long as we’re better than China or Russia, then that’s ok, well that bullshit offends me. Deeply.

        The standards are higher for the United States, not lower. That’s what American exceptionalism means. This country is about liberty, pure and sweet, flowing like water throughout the land. A cool, clear, stream of clean water for the downtrodden and oppressed to wash the dust of tyranny off their bodies. A wild river, teeming with opportunity for all who have the courage to wade into the current and stand their ground. A broad river, with green fields on either side and warm rocks in the middle on which to rest.

        That’s what it’s supposed to be.

        1. OK, but that means you cannot include the US on a worldwide ranking as you are using different and lower criteria for other nations, the rankings compared to the US do not mean anything,

          1. I don’t give a shit what the UN says. Tulpa brought up some good points in the midst of all his shitposts: government subsidized media is not a good thing for liberty, and should not be a boost to press freedom rankings.

            Think of how antiliberty the media is now, thanks to cultural and ideological composition. Imagine them with a government paycheck.

            1. Anything that brings attention to how the Democrats and Republicans are bringing the traditional American idea of liberty to ruin is a good thing.

              I really don’t care if it is done by the ACLU or the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or the Mises Institute. If the criticism is valid and they’re getting the word out, it’s a good thing.

              Still, it is ridiculous to rank the US lower than countries that have an Official Secrets Act that can censor publications like the UK can. In the words of the inestimable Sir Humphrey the Official Secrets Act is “not there to protect secrets, but to protect officials”.

              And it is ridiculous to rank it lower than countries with laws that censor “hate speech” and hateful nonsense like Holocaust Denial. Sunshine is truly the best disinfectant.

              1. Yeah I would say the US still has the best environment for the press in the world.

                Which is really an indictment of how bad the rest of the world is more than it is saying that press freedom in the US is in good shape.

    3. Well, in fairness, we are the only country that even pretends to give a shit about freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

  5. From the RWB methodology page:

    These are the seven criteria categories used since the 2013 index:
    ? Pluralism [indicator scorePlur]
    Measures the degree to which opinions are represented in the media

    What does this have to do with freedom of the press? Indeed, one would expect that certain opinions are going to have a hard time finding an audience in the free press. Yet this criterion is 1/3 of the ranking!

    ? Media independence [indicator scoreInd]
    Measures the degree to which the media are able to function independently of sources of political, governmental, business and religious power and influence

    So the advertising-driven American press is going to get savaged here, while coercively funded press like that in Britain is A-OK. Also, why is relgious influence bad but secular ideological influence good?

    ? Environment and self-censorship [indicator scoreEA]
    Analyses the environment in which journalists and other news and information providers operate

    Whatever the heck that means. Good fudge factor.

    ? Legislative framework [indicator scoreCL]
    Analyses the impact of the legislative framework governing news and information activities

    This is what the whole index should be, given the name… but it’s only 1/6 of the score.

    1. ? Transparency [indicator scoreTra]
      Measures the transparency of the institutions and procedures that affect the production of news and information
      ? Infrastructure [indicator scoreInf]
      Measures the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information

      Again, what do these have to do with press freedom?

      ? Abuses [indicator scoreExa]
      Measures the level of violence and harassment during the period assessed

      This is legit, but can be fudged based on how one weights different types of “abuse”. Also it’s weighted 1/5, lower than the ridiculous “plurality” score above.

      Note to Reason: next time you hop in bed with a foreign statist organization based on your shared love of condemning America, do a little better job of vetting them.

  6. We dropped seven places in one year under the most transparent administration ever? Say it aint so.

    I wonder what will befall Reporters Without Borders. Tax audits? Justice Department investigations?

    1. Not only do you despise Islam, you also despise America. You’re running out of things not to despise.

      1. You do realize there’s a distinction between the neighborhood and the mafia family providing protection there, right?

        1. No, it doesn’t. It does not understand that America is not the Federal Government.

          1. Collectivists cannot comprehend the distinction between government and society.

            1. But govt IS society. I got this social contract here somewhere. Eh, what the hell did I do with it?

              1. I keep mine on the shelf next to the suicide pact.

        2. The Devil Uno == Tulpa

        3. I don’t know of any mafia families that are freely elected by the neighborhoods they patrol.

          I’m no fan of the IRS, but I’d sure as hell rather be in the defendant’s chair in the US Tax Court than sitting across from a mafia don in an abandoned warehouse with garden clippers around my balls.

          1. Like the don would grant you an audience. You’d be lucky to be sitting across from a capo.

          2. 50% of my neighbors consenting to something is not the same as me consenting to it.

            1. 50% of my neighbors consenting to something is not the same as me consenting to it.

              Of course, but it’s much better than living under the mafia (who also have no constitution and bill of rights they need to work with).

              1. The government of late does not seem to believe it has to operate under the rule of the constitution or bill of rights.

          3. Bo’s right. We have so much freedom, it’s sickening!

  7. Striking irony: If you really didn’t have freedom of the press, then you wouldn’t be able to complain about the lack of freedom of the press in the press.

    1. Shhhhh! There is a wingnut myth to sustain!

      1. Shhhh, obama has used the espionage act more than every other administration

        1. Smashing those who would share the administration’s sins with the press has no impact at all on the freedom of that press.

    2. Freedom is not binary, dipshit.

      1. Actually, arguing that freedom is binary would be a good refutation to his argument.

        The existence of a press outlet that is not interfered with does not mean every press outlet is not interfered with.

        Is The Devil Uno going to say that Venezuela has press freedom because Venezuelans can still post comments on the Internet?

      2. Actually, yes it is.

        When was the last time someone was jailed for publishing a story in the US? When was the last time US govt exercised prior restraint to prevent a story from being published?

        No, govt officials saying mean things doesn’t count.

        1. Well, Snowden tried, but had to go across the pond.

          1. Snowden didn’t publish shit. Greenwald did and he’s a free man.

            1. because trying to imprison Snowden would have no chilling effect whatsoever. And tell Judith Miller, formerly of the NYT, about govt not cracking down on reporters.

              1. Snowden was a liar, a cheat, and guilty of employment fraud. He deserves to be in prison just for what he’d done before running to Russia… before we get to his current activities as Putin’s propaganda stooge.

                1. And the mask slips. I guess the authority cock isn’t going to suck itself.

                  1. There was no mask. As a libertarian I oppose force and fraud by private individuals, including employment fraud, as well as by govt.

                    1. You’re right. Your love of authority was transparent from your first post. You’re as much of a libertarian as shriek is (approximately 8%).

                    2. The Devil Uno|2.21.15 @ 11:35AM|#
                      …”As a libertarian”…

                      No, you’re a lying ignoramus.

                2. Well, shit, buddy, Obama and every other politician is by definition and by example a liar, a cheat, and guilty of employment fraud.

                  Go on, tell us more …..

    3. So having the federal prison Swords of Domocles hang over your head for a decade as well as having to pay for what is likely a seven figure legal defense bill wouldn’t affect whether and how a journalist might report on something that would put them in that predicament?

      1. There is no way a journalist is going to federal prison in the US.

        1. What would have been the outcome if he both refused to testify as well as refused to spend the time and resources defending himself? Beacause that is the only other alternative to what occured absent of testifying.

          I don’t share your optimism.

          1. I should have been more clear.

            There is no way a journalist is going to federal prison in the US for publishing something.

            Freedom of the press does not imply that the press has immunity from prosecution for violating other laws.

            1. Freedom of the press does not imply that the press has immunity from prosecution for violating other laws.

              Those laws are certainly never twisted to punish journalists for publishing something. Nope, never.

              1. The laws weren’t twisted at all in Risen and Miller’s case. If you witnessed lawbreaking, you have to testify about it. Our entire justice system would fall apart absent that principle.

                1. Why is he in jail?
                  He was refusing to testify about criminal activity.
                  How do we know there was criminal activity?
                  Because he was refusing to testify about it, ya dimwit. Not the actions of an innocent man, I tell ya.

                2. um, we already make some pretty big exemptions for self incrimination, children, spouses, et al. you appeal to tradition and beg the question

            2. The freedom of press includes not being required to reveal a source. Dragging a journalist into a federal court for a decade so that he does that very thing would destroy him as a journalist (i.e., nobody would talk with him again) and is probably even more eggregious than the financial burden that was placed on him when he defended himself.

              1. The freedom of press includes not being required to reveal a source.

                Says who?

                1. Says the US govt when they chose not to take the Washington Post (Woodward & Bernstein) to court over the identity of Deep Throat.

        2. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013…..o-testify/

          the facts differ with you. This list includes fines as well: http://www.rcfp.org/jailed-journalists

    4. If you really didn’t have freedom of the press, then you wouldn’t be able to complain about the lack of freedom of the press in the press.

      So as long as you have enough freedom of the press to complain about limitations put on the press, you have freedom of the press. Tulpa, you’re an idiot.

      1. There are no flerking limitations on the press. That’s the point.

        1. Being saddled with a decade long battle in federal court isn’t a limitation?

          The NYT originally balked at publishing the story not because of a lack of newsworthiness but because of fear of retributions.

          1. They’re afraid of losing access to govt officials, which is (a) noncoercive, and (b) something that would happen in any country.

            1. So because it would/could happen elsewhere that is ok?

              Their fear wasn’t that the Sec. of Transportation was no longer going to be availble to discuss bland policy issues with them. They were worried about a decade long, expensive lefal battle in federal court. And their worries were justified since that is exactly what occurred to the reporter.

  8. “As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to jail.”

    Eric Holder on James Risen

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/doj…..eal-source

    Another wingnut myth bites the dust.

    1. James Rosen on the other hand was a domestic terrorist, huh.

    2. Gtfo with your proggie horesh*t

    3. You are patting Holder on his dick for doing something that should have been the standard from day one. Instead, it was done years later. And that timeline includes four years of Obama and Holder continuing to pursue him after the Brinkema ruling stating that he didn’t have to testify against Sterling. This is should have been an easy decision from the get go but Holder and Obama turned it imto a witch hunt that they only now seem to have backed away from. Do you think Bush should be celebrqted for developing the Iraq exit timetable?

    4. After running him through the wringer for 4 years. Meanwhile, they’ve spied on the Associated Press, initiated a massive campaign against leaks, and generally become unresponsive to FOIA requests and press inquiries.

    5. Palin’s Buttplug|2.21.15 @ 8:55AM|#
      “As long as I am attorney general”…

      Turd lies.

    6. As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to jail.

      God you are such a fuckwit. When did the Attorney General get the authority to decide what is and is not the job of a journalist?

      I bet you’re one of those useful idiots who thinks press licensing is a good idea.

      1. And, why does “going to jail” have to be the only chilling effect on free press. Fuckin’ morons.

    7. “doing his job” can be defined in many ways, dipshit.

  9. I’m drowning in troll excrement down here.

    *Gurgle*

  10. Speaking of Freedom of the Press and the freedom of expression in general, I’ve recently gotten interested in 1930s literature. Of the following books, which would you recommend I read first?

    As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
    The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
    The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain

    1. As I Lay Dying is what you’d expect from the title. Wouldn’t recommend it for fun. The others, I’ve only seen the movies.

    2. Put ’em in a sack, reach in and grab one at random. You can’t go wrong with that list.

    3. AILD is interminable. Read the other two.

    4. Maltese Falcon and Postman are great quick reads. AILD takes a little to slog through. It’s a great book but a little more complicated as there are a dozen characters with their own points of view.

  11. I’m reading Sharyl Attkisson’s book Stonewalled.

    Decent insider’s view. Recommended.

  12. The messiah brings light:
    Nine months of labor dispute, Obo sends in a knight on a white charger, and PRESTO!
    “West Coast port deal reached with White House prodding”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/art…..093050.php

    And *everybody* is happy!
    “Relief was evident all around.
    “The agreement was unanimously approved by the negotiating committee ? and they’d go to work tonight if they could,” Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the union, said Friday evening.”

    Well, maybe not EVERYBODY:
    “Representatives from the Pacific Maritime Association did not immediately return calls or e-mails.”
    Anyone else smell the sleaze from turd’s fave lying piece of shit?

  13. Rank these Luc Besson movies:

    Nikita
    Leon: The Professional
    The Fifth Element
    Lucy

    How I could rank them:

    1. Leon
    2. Nikita
    3. The Fifth Element
    4. Lucy

    1. The Professional, the first Taken, Fifth Element.

      That is right, I went my own way.

    2. 1. The Fifth Element
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      The others.

      1. Damn Straight! One of my all-time favorites. Plus, Milla Jovovich is soooo easy on the eyes.

    3. Haven’t seen Lucy yet, so…

      The Transporter
      The Fifth Element
      La Femme Nikita
      The Professional
      Point of No Return

      everything else

      Taken series in sequential order

      1. Lucy is pretty terrible. It has a few good action moments, but the plot is completely incoherent and it indulges in that stupid goddamn “if only we could use more than 10% of our brains” idiocy.

        And yes, it is just one slur is insufficient. It is both stupid and an idiocy.

        1. Yeah, I agree: had a few cool scenes, but spends way to much time reinforcing that old misunderstanding of the way the brain works. In fact, that is the central thesis of the movie.

  14. There are certainly some problems in the US with legal harassment of reporters. But I find these rankings absurd. The US is the only country with anything close to an absolute freedom to publish or say whatever you want. That should be the primary criterion, not some bullshit about diversity of views.

    Most of the countries ranked above the US will criminally charge you for “hate speech”. And many subsidize their news media heavily. That should be a huge negative.

    1. It’s absurd that Canada is so high up on the list with the all those apparatchiks at the CRTC and CHRC.

    2. Agreed on all points. Without doubt we are the freest nation on earth, but that can change very quickly.

      I do find it very troubling that we have any harassment at all. It should be non-existent.

      1. Without doubt we are the freest nation on earth, but that can change very quickly.

        And doing Chicken Little impressions about how we don’t have any freedom anymore, as this author is doing, serves only to lessen your credibility when real problems arise.

        1. And doing Chicken Little impressions about how we don’t have any freedom anymore, as this author is doing,

          Obama, is that you? Because there is that tactic again – arguing against a point no one is making. Nobody said there is no freedom, just that it is gradually being chipped away in ways large and small.

        2. Hyperbole much?

  15. A big part of the problem here is people misunderstanding what “the press” really is. It is not professional news media. It is anything that anyone publishes. In the internet age, everyone is the press.

    No European country with “right to be forgotten” bullshit or hate speech laws should be ahead of the US. That is some heavy censorship and should a big negative in any ranking like this.

    1. Keep in mind who concocted the list. They gauge the degree of ‘freedom’ according to what they think that is. I don’t think the word means the same to them as it does to us.

      1. You’re quite the fickle one. Up above you were totally on RWB’s side with the ranking.

      2. I don’t think the word means the same to them as it does to us.

        Yeah, a lot of people are a lot more focused on “freedom from” (which almost always requires forcing people to do certain things) than “freedom of” or “freedom to”.

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  17. If everyone is considered a reporter, then you can’t have “reporter shield laws” without breaking the entire goddam justice system… every eyewitness could just refuse to testify.

    1. It doesn’t take you long to shed your “defender of freedom” guise, does it Tulpa?

      You should’ve stopped at posting your criticism of the RWB report. People would have been none the wiser, at least on this thread.

      But no, you always have to have the last word, and you just can’t help but open your mouth and reveal your love of authority.

      1. Defending freedom is more complicated than just reflexively opposing the government.

        Having your rights violated by non-govt entities is no better than having them violated by government.

        1. “Having your rights violated by non-govt entities is no better than having them violated by government.’

          Ummm…no.

          As far as I know General Motors can’t confiscate your property just because they think you might have smoked a joint at some point in your life.

          1. You don’t understand my point, and probably a lot of other things too.

            1. I understand the point you posted.

              If you had some other point in mind you should have been more clear andposted that one.

              How old were you when your father abandoned you Tulpa ?

              1. Nice.

        2. Defending freedom is more complicated than just reflexively opposing the government.

          You would have to take the government cock out of your mouth before you could start lecturing us on what defending freedom means.

      2. Reporter shield laws? Does he mean that hundred year old, piece of paper?

        1. Reporter shield laws are not a first amendment thing as far as I can tell. The first amendment means that prior restraint is not allowed. But that doesn’t mean that if information is obtained illegally reporters or their sources get a free pass on breaking the law.
          Don’t get me wrong, I think shield laws are a good thing, but I don’t think that they are implicit in the first amendment. Freedom of the press is about publishing stuff, not about the behavior of reporters. I think that the common assumption that “the press” means the news media has done great harm to actual freedom of the press by creating a special class who gets more protection than everyone else.

          1. I would think that anyone who publishes something is engaged in freedom of the press, even if it’s a guy who takes a few minutes each day to add a paragraph to his blog. He’s not paid, he’s not full-time, but he’s publishing.

            That still leaves the question of the blogger should be forced to reveal the source of the reports on his blog.

      3. I would be willing to make book that at some point in Tulpa” early development he was abandoned by his father, either physically or emotionally, probably both.

        He has been seeking that authority figure ever since.

        Every little mendacious twit such as he I have ever know has suffered that same lack of a strong father figure.

      4. Do you, kbolino, have anything substantive to say?

        “If everyone is considered a reporter, then you can’t have “reporter shield laws””

        This is a rather straightforward observation. What can you say about it beyond screeching Tulpa?

        1. Laws which single out professional reporters for protection are bullshit. The 1st Amendment is a shield law. Journalism is an activity, not a profession.

          1. I strongly agree with it, which makes me hesitant to embrace the entirety of the report.

            The index cited … the fact that U.S. journalists are still not legally entitled to protect sources who reveal confidential information about their work.

        2. Oh good, the Soviet apologist jumps in to defend the authority lover.

          1. You’re as dumb as I thought when I noticed you yesterday. Claiming that I’m a Soviet apologist reveals that you insist on fighting a straw man. That must be your level.

            1. Tulpa rides in on his high horse lecturing about non sequitur bullshit, and you want me to do what exactly?

              There is a fucking amendment of the Constitution dedicated to protecting the freedom of speech and press, which are activities not people or professions.

              Talking about “reporter shield laws” is shifting the argument from our natural rights to the privileges that our oh so benevolent government deigns to hand us.

              If you have something substantive to say, then fucking say it.

              1. According to the article we’re discussing, the Reporters Without Borders ranked the US low because it lacks “reporter shield laws.” It’s in the second paragraph.

                It was not Tulpa who started talking about “reporter shield laws” but the RWB. There’s a genuine conflict between these laws, the freedom of the press and the acknowledgment that the press consists of more than just credentialed (licensed) journalists.

                You obviously missed it.

                1. You obviously missed it.

                  I did miss a point he did not make, you are quite right about that.

                  If Tulpa had made the criticism you attribute to him, then this would be a different discussion.

                  Perhaps you could even infer from my comments that I already agree with you on the point you’re making, but please continue defending somebody who doesn’t agree with you and didn’t say anything like what you are attributing to him.

                  1. Wait, I think I understand now. You are Tulpa. Jesus Christ, here I am arguing with his fucking sockpuppet army.

                    It’s not surprising that you lick Stalin’s dick anymore.

                    1. You wanted substance, I gave you substance. You ignored the substance and decided to focus on the insults. So I guess you didn’t really want substance, after all.

            2. Also, you specifically upheld the Soviet Union as superior to Nazi Germany. That’s not a strawman, although it is just as irrelevant to the discussion of press freedom as “reporter shield laws” are.

              1. For Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews etc. living in the Soviet Union in 1941 that was obviously true. You defend your country against the invader planning to enslave and exterminate you with the government you have, not the government you wish to have.

                It may be hard for Nazi apologists to grasp but it’s still true.

                1. Given that the Americans still haven lived down the monstrosity of the tyrant Lincoln enacting the draft (the real slavery), they shouldn’t cast stones on other nations that were less than perfect.

                  /sarcasm

                  1. other nations that were less than perfect.

                    The Soviet Union was just “less than perfect”? Jesus, man, if you don’t want me to call you a Soviet apologist, then stop being one.

                2. For Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews etc. living in the Soviet Union in 1941 that was obviously true.

                  God you’re a laughably bad apologist, too.

                  I suppose you’re going to tell me that the millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, etc., who died for the crime of just living their fucking lives under Soviet oppression were just misguided, too, aren’t you?

                  It may be hard for Nazi apologists to grasp but it’s still true.

                  Yeah, nothing but love for the murderous Nazis from me. Man, do I love some Nazis and their murder.

                  1. What exactly is the point of contention here?

                    One can think that two things are horrific and awful, but not necessarily equally so, without being an apologist for anyone.

                    I don’t think it should be all that controversial to say that, as horrible as Stalin and the USSR were, the Nazis were even worse if you were Eastern European. Hitler and the Nazis made it very clear that their plan for Eastern Europe was 1) Kill most of the population 2) Deport most of the rest of the population to Siberia 3) Enslave or forcibly Germanize the “lucky” few who remained and turn the place into one big German colony. The Soviets were terrible to the nations of Eastern Europe. But those nations wouldn’t have even continued existing had the Nazis won. Acknowledging the latter as worse doesn’t make you a USSR apologist.

                    1. Not to mention a lot of Eastern Europeans thought that they might be able to ally with the Nazis to fight against the Russian Empire Soviet Union.

                      I’m not so sure informing to the Gestapo on the your neighbor for being a Jew is worse than informing to the Cheka on him for being a kulak. Either way he’s going to be taken to a death camp.

                    2. Many did because the USSR had treated them like shit, but one of the biggest blunders the Nazis made was putting their ideology ahead of military necessity and completely failing to take advantage of that support by treating the people even worse than the Soviets did.

                      Again, I’m not saying what the USSR did in Eastern Europe wasn’t horrific and awful it was. But I was not exaggerating when I said that the Nazis were going to completely wipe out the nations of Eastern Europe. That’s not hyperbole, they made it very clear that the land was to become a German colony and the people killed, deported, or enslaved. As bad as the USSR was, that’s even worse. Eastern European countries were at least one day able to free themselves of the Soviet yoke and move towards freedom and prosperity, to some extent at least. A Nazi victory meant those countries would no longer exist forever.

                    3. Right but the USSR did practice ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. They just didn’t have a masturbatory insane former artist as their dictator to write a lurid book about it. The Soviets did exactly what Hitler wanted to do, they just didn’t talk about it.

                      the people killed, deported, or enslaved.

                      They did that Poland. Killed the leaders, deported or killed any other resisters, and enslaved the rest. They did it to the Baltic States, and to all the other nations of Eastern Europe.

                    4. “Right but the USSR did practice ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe.”

                      They did, I never said otherwise. Not on the same scale the Nazis had planned.

                      They did do all 3 of things, but not in the same way or on the same scale the Nazis had planned. As I’ve said repeatedly, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe suffered tremendously under the Soviets. But Poland still exists today. The Polish people exist. The same can be said of the Ukrainians, the Belorussians, the Lithuanians, Romanians, and other groups of Eastern Europe. That would not be the case had the Nazis won. Those nations would no longer exist. The Polish people were to be liquidated and the lucky ones who weren’t killed were to be deported beyond the Urals to make room for German colonization. Nothing the Soviets did to the Poles was on par with that. And that plan was to be implemented across all of Eastern Europe. The Nazis plan was basically if you combined what Stalin did to the Ukrainians and the Tatars (mass murder and forced deportation, respectively) into one plan and then did that to every group in Eastern Europe. It’s not Soviet apologia to acknowledge that what they did to the peoples of Eastern Europe was not as bad as the Nazis’ plan to completely eliminate those groups from existence.

                    5. This is utter speculation and always will be.

                      You are trying to posit that Dolphy’s totalitarianism is somehow worse than Joe’s brand. That is some kind of reach there, dude.

                      If wishes were horses….

                    6. My point of contention is over grrizzly conflating the government of the Soviet Union with the Russian, Ukrainian, etc. people who fought in the war. He did this by saying he was “glad” his ancestors were “smart” enough to institute conscription.

                      I have nothing bad to say about the Russian, Ukrainian, etc. people defending themselves from German aggression. Such is their right; if that meant donning the uniform of the Red Army voluntarily, then I will not decry them as long as they did not personally commit atrocities.

                      However, that does not excuse the government of the Soviet Union for its conduct prior to and during the war. It does not make the victory of one totalitarian, murderous regime over another moral or justified.

                    7. I wasn’t aware of the context from the debate yesterday. I agree with you regarding conscription and the Soviets overall. I don’t think arguing that what the Soviets did to Eastern Europeans, as horrible as it was, was as bad as what the Nazis had planned is Soviet apologia, but that cannot be used to justify Soviet atrocities, which is apologism.

                    8. Conscription is one of those atrocities. Even if you could make the case that conscription is not always bad, which is a hell of a fucking stretch to begin with, the Soviets took people they had been already been starving and oppressing, then shoved them on the front lines with nothing and then put bullets in their heads if they questioned this horrible arrangement.

                      The conscripts got mowed down, the retreating Soviets destroyed entire towns and unleashed the secret police on anyone who dissented, and then with their balls up against the fall finally relented on their monstrous ideology long enough to let their own people win the fucking war. The Nazis should have had lots of Soviet company in the gallows at Nuremburg.

                      So fuck him and fuck you too if you think pointing out how horrible the Nazis were justifies any of that.

    2. I’m pretty sure that shield laws protect against specific things like being forced to reveal sources and are not a general privilege to refuse to testify. If a reporter witnesses a crime, I don’t think press credentials give them any special treatment in court. I see no reason why everyone shouldn’t have the same protections whether they publish something on a blog that no one reads or in a major newspaper.

      Anyway, my whole point is that “the press” is not the same thing as professional reporters and includes anything published anywhere in any medium by anyone.

      1. “Yes, your Honor, I did witness the murder of that pregnant kindergarten teacher in the dark alley, but I can’t reveal who did it because they were an anonymous source for a post on my personal cat fancy blog.”

        1. With the exception of imbedded reporters, the press isn’t typically witnessing the event that the government doesn’t want people to know about.

          In your strawman example, you would need to add a third party between the person who murdered the teacher and the blogger. And that is how the blogger would have found out. The blogger would be Risen. The murderer would be the federal government. Sterling would have been the third party.

        2. Yeah, that’s not how shield laws work. Journalists aren’t exempt from testifying if they are witnesses to a crime. That’s ridiculous.

          This is why people don’t want to engage you.

    3. My freedoms and those of a free press guaranteed to me far outweigh any inconvience that may be imposed on a government that is supposed to be responsible to me and called out when wrong by said press.

      Are you also implying the option to not testify against oneself should be removed from the fifth amendment?

      Talking with an unnamed source that provided damaging facts about government activities in an article one published is reporting. Witnessing a fellow priest molest a boy is not.

      1. Are you also implying the option to not testify against oneself should be removed from the fifth amendment?

        Given that this is Tulpa, he almost certainly is.

      2. Are you also implying the option to not testify against oneself should be removed from the fifth amendment?

        Failing to see what one has to do with the other. In any case, I support keeping the 5th amendment.

        1. Your strawman talked about eyewitnesses refusing to testify. Implying that this would emasculate the justice system. It seemed like you were making the point that it was the lack of requiring people to testify was the issue since Risen was never an actual eyewitness to the crimes the government comitted.

  18. Aw, shucks! Ain’t it nice of Tulpa’s mom to let him play here on the weekends? Thanks Mom!

  19. Control Freaks in the guise of “government” have been trying to rid themselves of that pesky notion of people enjoying liberty for as long as there’s been authority. Anything we might consider a “right” is under this attack. The sad thing is that so many people are abjectly ignorant of where this is all heading.
    What are ya gonna do?

  20. OT: I LOVE being back in Denver! 61 degrees two days ago, a (sightly delayed) snow storm this weekend! And, although I remembered that CO was beautiful, I had forgotten exactly how beautiful.

  21. Of course, there are increasing problems with press freedom in the US. But the Press Freedom Index is useless for comparisons because it is based on the opinions of journalists in each country. If you had asked the journalists in East Germany, they would have told you that press freedom is pretty good, because the only people becoming journalists were those in favor of the regime.

  22. plus for being the only article in a news outlet re: Risen that even vaguely explains the case the gov’t has embroiled him in. huge fucking minus for describing it as the CIAs plan to destabilize Irans nuke program without mentioning that Risens story was about how the CIA gave Iran a usable prototype for a nuclear bomb trigger. I am astonushed that despite all of tge coverage Rosen gets, his story gets NONE.

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    1. Just what we need: “dispassionate and unbiased explanations for all arguments” from a skippy shackle dragger.

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