Reporters Without Borders recently published their 2014 World Press Freedom Index, and the US dropped 13 spots to #46. Finland was ranked #1, a spot its held for the four years, and The Netherlands and Norway are close behind. Perennial bad actors Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritria bring up the rear three spots. I supposed North Korea can take comfort in the fact there’s a list on which they’re not ranked dead last.
The Index is based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure. Most of the countries ranked ahead of the US are in western Europe, but even Canada, with its restrictive defamation laws, makes the top 20.
What happened? Weren’t we told
“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. “
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,”
With the rise in scandals and outright contempt of law exhibited by this Administration, there has been a commensurate increase in reports of journalistic disenfranchisement and outright harassment of reporters who publish unflattering articles. Many veteran White House reporters call this the most opaque Administration they’ve covered.
My hypothesis is that the journalistic community has sown the seeds of their current predicament through their blind support of Progressive policies and politicians.
Those who recall the Presidential campaign of 2008 may remember that as the year mainstream media cast aside any pretense of objectivity, and became the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. Local school board candidates are vetted more thoroughly than was the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Obama’s campaign presented him as a tabula rasa onto which people could project whatever desires they had. Here was a Progressive Black man! He was educated! Articulate! Clean-cut! He can read a Teleprompter really well! Let’s not look too closely at him! He’s telling us what we want to hear! The 2008 Presidential election became a monumental victory of style over substance.
For the past five years, the President continues to tell people what they want to hear, even as his actions reveal his true nature. As the gaffes, scandals, and outright lies continue to mount, the press has a problem. This is their guy. They were instrumental in getting him elected. The passes the media have given this Administration have empowered them and made them believe that they aren’t going to be held accountable, because for the most part, they haven’t been. Now the media find themselves operating in an increasingly hostile environment, and they’re not happy.
Looking at the 2008 World Press Freedom Index, we find that the US was tied for 36th with five other countries. Rankings between 2009 and 2013 inclusive were 20, 20,47,47,32. Reporters Without Borders attributes the sharp decline in 2011 to the Occupy movement and the attendant police actions against reporters. The latest decline is attributed to the Manning/Snowden cases, as well as the Department of Justice’s seizure of AP reporter’s phone records.
It’s apparent that press freedom in the US is in serious decline, and it isn’t getting better. If the mainstream press had done their job in 2008, they likely would have avoided the current situation. I’d say they’re getting exactly what they deserve, except all of us have to live with it.
Oh, the Irony!
Part of the hipster culture is the embracement of irony, and Portland recently polished its hipster cred by:
Canceling the annual “Worst Day of the Year” bike ride on 9 February immediately after the worst snow storm in five years.
Canceling the Polar Bear Plunge because of weather.
Mayor Charley Hales was called back from a South African conference on global warming to attend to a labor dispute. South Africa is about as far from Portland as it’s possible to get, and because one cannot journey to South Africa by bicycle, public transit, or hybrid car, one may reasonably assume the mayor and his party traveled on a big-ass hydrocarbon-burning airplane. Haven’t these people heard of Skype?