Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 29 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/26/19

Freedom of the Press? Not in the U.S.

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     (# of views)   7 comments
Author 66949
Message Ted Rall
Become a Fan
  (27 fans)

From Smirking Chimp

World Press Freedom Day is observed to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
World Press Freedom Day is observed to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
(Image by YouTube, Channel: The Times of India)
  Details   DMCA

The United States ranks 48th among nations for press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders. Since few other countries have the equivalent of our First Amendment, learning that we rank below Botswana and Slovenia may come as a surprise.

Mostly the organization pins this dismal state of affairs on Trump's attacks on the news media. They reference the White House's revocation of CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press card, the president's "fake news" and "enemy of the people" jibes and his tacit approval of the grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by the government of Saudi Arabia. "At least one White House correspondent has hired private security for fear of their life after receiving death threats, and newsrooms throughout the country have been plagued by bomb threats and were the recipients of other potentially dangerous packages, prompting journalism organizations to reconsider the security of their staffs in a uniquely hostile environment," reports RWB. (Cry me a river! I've received hundreds of death threats.)

Like most other mainstream analyses of the state of press, RWB focuses on how easy it is for large, corporate-owned media conglomerates with establishmentarian political orientations to do their jobs.

Independent journalists, especially those whose politics are left of the Democrats or right of the Republicans, have much bigger problems than deep-pocketed mega-conglomerates like CNN.

No consideration of freedom of the press in the U.S. is complete without a hard look at the case of Julian Assange. The founder and publisher of WikiLeaks is rotting in an English prison, awaiting extradition to the United States for possession and dissemination of classified information -- exactly what The New York Times did when it published the Pentagon Papers and the Edward Snowden revelations. He is being "treated worse than a murderer, he is isolated, medicated," says journalist John Pilger, who recently visited him. Incredibly, corporate media is siding with the Trump Administration, not merely ignoring Assange but mocking him and accusing him of treason (which is impossible, since he's not American).

Censorship is insidious; readers and viewers can't know what they're not told. Almost as sinister as the persecution of Assange is the wholesale erasure of left-wing politics from U.S. news media. 43% of Americans tell pollsters they want the U.S. to become a socialist country. 36% of registered Democrats currently support self-described "democratic socialist" Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, whose campaign promises closely align to Sanders'.

The nation's 1,000-plus newspapers employ countless Democrats and Republicans. But there isn't a single staff columnist or editorial cartoonist who agrees with that 43% of the public that socialism would be better than capitalism. There isn't a single one who says he or she supports Sanders or Warren.

Watch CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews and the other cable news outlets. Once in a very long while you might catch a token leftist joining a yakfest. You'll never see socialist get a gig as a regular contributor, much less be asked to host a show. If you don't think it's weird that 43% of the country's population is being censored, I don't know what to tell you.

Pervasive among both corporate and independent journalists is self-censorship. Apologists say that freedom of the press doesn't include the right to be published, and that's true. Because journalists are like everyone else and can't survive without earning money, however, the real-world practical effect of having to earn a living is that reporters and pundits have to watch what they say lest they become unemployable pariahs like I was after 9/11. "Sorry, man," an editor I considered a friend told me after I asked him for work at his business magazine, "you're radioactive."

The Washington Post and other corporate news companies ridiculed Bernie Sanders' recent assertion that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Post influences its coverage. As Sanders noted, it's not like Bezos calls Post editors to tell them what to print and what to censor.

Self-censorship is subtle. Post executive editor Marty Baron is technically correct when he retorts that "Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence." But he's dodging the meat of the matter. Baron and other Post editors know who their bosses are: Bezos and, more generally, his allies in the corporate ruling class. No matter how much they protest that they can follow any lead and print anything they want, that knowledge of who butters their bread informs every move they make. It's why, when the editorial page editor sorts through the day's nationally syndicated political cartoons, he never ever publishes one from a left-wing political orientation, no matter how well-written or well-drawn it is. It's why, when they're hiring new staffers, they never hire a leftie. They're smart enough not to bite the hand that feeds them. It's also why the person making that hiring decision is not himself or herself one of the 43%.

I'm more audacious. Yet I too know not to go too far.

I've learned that I can draw a cartoon or write a column criticizing "free trade" agreements without fear of getting fired or assassinated. There is also no fear that it will be published by a corporate newspaper -- so why bother? Over the long run, I have to give editors material they want to publish; if I send out too much stuff about a verboten topic like free trade I'll lose clients.

Most people who hear about my defamation lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times support me. But most people don't hear about it for a simple reason: when one member of the press is besieged -- especially when it's justified -- the others circle the wagons. Reporters for The Washington Post, The New York Times and fake-left outfits like The Intercept contacted me eager to write about how the LAPD pension fund bought the Los Angeles Times in 2014 and then ordered the paper to fire me because I criticized the police in my cartoons. (It's still legal for the the cops to buy a newspaper.) Invariably they went silent after talking to their editors.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Ted Rall Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Ted Rall, a political cartoonist, is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963, raised in Kettering, Ohio and graduated from Fairmont West High School in 1981. His first cartoons were published (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Revolution Will Not Be Deactualized

Coverage of the anti-NSA Protest is an Example of a New Way to Disseminate Government BS

Why Trump is Doomed (It's Not the Nazi Thing)

Now, A Postmortem By Someone Who Actually Saw Trump's Win Coming

Hillary Cheated

Our Suicidal Ruling Class: Why Won't the Rich and Powerful Try to Save Themselves?

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

5 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments


lila york

Become a Fan
Author 11671

(Member since Feb 18, 2008), 98 fans, 72 articles, 126 quicklinks, 2759 comments
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

Correct me if I am wrong about this - I understood that the CIA paid the Washington Post to publish articles and opeds written by the CIA, and that all of its pro-war BS is cia authored. That is my understanding and why I never ever read that paper.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 at 12:13:10 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (2+)
Help
 

kappie

Become a Fan
Author 48333

(Member since May 6, 2010), 2 fans, 628 comments
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

Great article ted.I can't find one thing i disagree with.Our forefathers use to believe in total freedom for the press although they used their favorite papers to print only their views but there were plenty of papers to print oppossing views.Nowadays the news is just like listening to big brother in Orwells 1984,there is one view given acceptable to all.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 at 1:50:41 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (2+)
Help
 

Lois Gagnon

Become a Fan
Author 61784

(Member since Mar 21, 2011), 39 fans, 1 articles, 14 quicklinks, 5254 comments
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

Corporate media is state media in the US. Serving empire is the only rule. Break it and you're out.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 at 11:58:35 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 

Eric Dietrich-Berryman

Become a Fan
Author 512623

(Member since Dec 9, 2018), 3 fans, 15 articles, 128 comments
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

Julian Assange was never a journalist. A self-centered, narcissistic would-be power player, yes.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 11:48:20 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 
Indent

Lois Gagnon

Become a Fan
Author 61784

(Member since Mar 21, 2011), 39 fans, 1 articles, 14 quicklinks, 5254 comments
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Eric Dietrich-Berryman:   New Content

Apparently, you have no idea what journalism looks like. People have become so accustomed to what passes for journalism under corporate rule they are happy to join the chorus that vilifies the real thing.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 2:04:33 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
Indent

Old Codger

Become a Fan
Author 23441

(Member since Oct 2, 2008), 9 fans, 37 articles, 1 quicklinks, 4986 comments, 4 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Eric Dietrich-Berryman:   New Content

Mr. Berryman - you obviously have a good or fair knowledge of Assange. Unfortunately, you will find that very few here will agree with you. To most here Assange is a victim, with no regard for the fact that he is a 'self created' victim that the US played absolutely no role in the creation there of.


It appears that the only person in Australia that supports him is his mother. He is very adept at playing the victim card. Fortunately, most Americans can see through his charade.



Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 2:46:47 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

Eric Dietrich-Berryman

Become a Fan
Author 512623

(Member since Dec 9, 2018), 3 fans, 15 articles, 128 comments
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

It is an absurdity to rate the US as 48th in freedom of the press. By what measure? RWB is not inclined to favor the US, anyway. Never has. It's a French thing. Using Trump as a foil doesn't work, either. Nothing that man froths about "fake news" has stopped American media from broadcasting any opinion it wants. Further, RWB's definition of "journalist" as applied to Assange is as grotesque as is its defense of Chelsea Manning's betrayal of fidelity to his oath and nation.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 5:29:21 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment