Free Press

Namibia President Warns About 'Fake News' While Taking Credit for High Press Freedom Ranking

Hage Geingob has, however, been blamed for Namibia dropping out of the top 20.

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GovernmentZA

The southern African country of Namibia ranked number 24 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, which was released last month, placing it above the U.S., which was at 43 this year, but representing a drop of 7 places—putting Namibia in the two thirds of countries that dropped in the rankings between 2016 and 2017.

Namibia's president, Hage Geingob, nevertheless took credit for Namibia's relatively high position—the highest in Africa and higher than countries like the U.S., the United Kingdom, and France.

"As long as I am given the mandate to lead this great country, the freedom of the press is guaranteed," the president said at World Press Freedom Day celebrations held in the capital of Windhoek, according to The Namibian.

"This is not to say that we are happy with the status quo in our country," Geingob said in his speech. "Far from it. We want our media to be the freest in the world. We are talking about being number one, not just in Africa, but in the world."

But, like most heads of state around the world, Geingob has a peculiar view of what constitutes a free press. Geingob warned about the need for "accountability," and suggested it could be imposed by the government, to combat the emergence of "fake news."

The media "must guard against becoming lap dogs or attack dogs. They must be the watchdogs," Geingob said. But that's not a free press—in a free and open media environment there will be outlets that act as lap dogs, others that act as attack dogs, and still others that embrace the role of watch dog. The point is that a free market of ideas and speech produces a diverse and self-regulating press.

Warnings about "fake news" and calls to "do something" about it invariably ignore the nature of a free press.

What's more, media watchdogs in Namibia blame Geingob's government for the deterioration of press freedom in the country.

The Namibian chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Namibia) noted in a statement reported by The Namibian that while the government markets the country as a human rights and press friendly jurisdiction, the same government regularly threatens members of the media.

"Critical journalists find a refuge on the internet, where they are not subject to control, but self-censorship is common in the state-owned media," the statement said.

The director of MISA-Namibia said the drop in rankings was not surprising. "It was expected, considering some of the issues around media freedom, especially how our leaders such as the president and the information minister have insulted and intimidated journalists, as well as some attempts to regulate the media," Natasha Tibinyane told The Namibian. "They should be ashamed of themselves."

Politicians rarely have a sense of shame of their own, but a free press can certainly help politicians discover it.

NEXT: Comey, Assange, and Libertarian Purity Tests: The New Fifth Column

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  1. Namibia ranked number 24 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, which was released last month, placing it above the U.S.

    We’re below Africa in Trump’s America? Sounds about right.

    1. Everyone here is aware that I’m not exactly Trump’s biggest fan on this board, but given that he has been in office for less than 4 months, I highly doubt he’s a very decisive factor in the ranking here. I’m pretty sure that previous rankings wouldn’t exactly reflect well on Obama if you hold him to the same standard.

    2. DanO.|5.11.17 @ 6:10PM|#
      “We’re below Africa in Trump’s America? Sounds about right.”

      We’re below Africa in an America where DanO spouts bullshit? Sounds about right.

    3. First, were we not still lower than *Namibia* in ‘Obama’s America?”

      Second, Africa isn’t a country, retard.

  2. Everything I learned about Namibia I learned from watching WSM. Apparently, it’s an African country where large Scandanavian men go to pick up very heavy things, pull airplanes around a tarmac, and toss beer kegs.

    1. You need lots of open space for that kind of stuff. Siberia is too cold, and OHSA is a bitch about lifting heavy stuff.

  3. Namibia has the best sand.

  4. Any know the criteria for their press rankings?

      1. An Antelope smaller than a pot bellied pig? And with none of the usual complicated genetic engineering problems to overcome. I think we could make millions on this. Billy Mays is rolling over in his grave over this lost opportunity.Throw away that obnoxious Gaia molesting lawn mower for good. With our patented 3 foot electric fencing system and a few breeding pairs of Dik-Diks’ you can be on your way to financial independence and have the best manicured lawn in your town while reducing your carbon footprint. And unlike other livestock, where you have to cut and wrap and freeze the leftovers, which just sit in the freezer. Costing you time and money and until they eventually become freezer burnt and you have to throw them out!! Even an anorexic meth-addled dwarf can easily finish an average Dik-Dik in one sitting at your next BBQ.!! Stop throwing away your money and call this toll free number right now!!.. The first 50 callers will also receive, at no additional cost….

        1. So. These Dik-Diks. It just seems they have always been very triggering to me for whatever reason. Fucking SIV.

  5. putting Namibia in the two thirds of countries that dropped in the rankings between 2016 and 2017

    How can two thirds of all countries drop in ranking? Don’t there have to be an equal number of gainers and losers?

    1. Don’t there have to be an equal number of gainers and losers?

      No

      If you have #s 1-100 and the only change is that last place ascends to first 99 out of the 100 have dropped in rank.

      1. The weakness of relative ranking. Some sort of point system maybe, tallying a country’s score for the year. Arrest a journalist for saying the president smells, that’s -10pts. Repeal a law opening up press freedom, +50pts.

        Countries with little change would score around 0, countries getting much worse/better would have more negative/positive scores.

  6. Sometimes I’m so proud to tell people I’m from Atlanta. Just not far enough from.

    Katelyn Ebner: “Sir, I can promise you, I have never — please — I have never smoked marijuana.”
    Officer Carroll: “Okay. Well, ma’am, you’re giving me indicators — several, several indicators — that you have, okay?”
    Katelyn Ebner: “Okay, so when I do a drug test, I’ll be free to go, correct?”
    Officer Carroll: “You’re going to jail, ma’am. Okay? I don’t have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.”

    “But he just did the ‘magical drug test’ that resulted in your arrest,” Keefe said.
    “Yes,” Ebener said. “They’re ruining people’s lives.”

  7. Who knew the New Hampshire statehouse was run like a rape dungeon?

    Democratic state Rep. Debra Altschiller, who works with an organization that supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence, cast Fisher as a particularly glaring example of the misogyny she says is too common in the state Capitol.

    “I am here today to not only assert that Rep. Fisher not only contributes to that rape culture that we experience here in the House but he is a purveyor of rape culture in our state and in our nation,” Altschiller said. “It is our responsibility to work with vigilance in this body to eradicate this vile scourge from our ranks and from our state.”

    Seriously? “That rape culture that we experience here in the House” sounds just a wee bit over the top, a little hyperbolic, a tad hysterical even. At what point does this crap just become empty words, like being called a racist or a capitalist pig?

    1. At what point? I’d say that ship sailed a while ago. Using it unironically is a warning label.

  8. So taking credit for high press freedom while complaining about fake news was, itself, fake news? Fakeception!

  9. This is all you need to know about Namibia:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgTYKH4x_cg

    and from a different POV:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXERsqhmA-8

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