Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump, Gingrich piss on First Amendment; Is this a step in a Trump-Putin plan to control the planet?

Trump and his aides like Gingrich are taking more steps to "break" the press by getting more right-wing bloggers and ilk from sites like Breitbart at those press conferences. This Media Matters story here lends more details on their campaign, which should concern all who care about the First Amendment.
Trump's alignment with Putin make crackdowns on the media more alarming than what Nixon, Reagan or Bush did against the press since the latter Republicans were not aligning themselves with a dictator who has imprisoned critics and seen numerous murders of journalists on his watch. A year ago, Trump maintained it was never proven that Putin was involved in those killings. Linda Qiu with PolitiFact wrote that it was true no one had proven Putin ordered assassinations of journalists and dissidents but stated, “Experts say the political climate in Russia is responsible for the high volume of journalist murders in the country.”
Moreover, Russia ranked 176th out of 199 countries worldwide in press freedom, according to an annual report released by D.C.-based Freedom House in 2016. Countries such as Zimbabwe, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and Venezuela rated higher. The U.S. was 28th, with nations like Costa Rica and New Zealand ahead. Norway rated first and North Korea last.
In 2015, Putin “expanded efforts to tightly control the news for domestic audiences and manipulate the information landscapes of several geopolitically significant neighbors, including Ukraine, Moldova, and the Baltic and Central Asian states,” reported Freedom House. “Domestically, the Russian government systemic control and prison terms for journalists reoriented the focus of its misinformation machine from Ukraine to Putin’s newest foreign exploit, the military intervention in Syria.” 
Putin also increasingly targeted online bloggers and accused the U.S. and European nation of worsening Russia’s economic woes, the report said. Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev said the media there was intimidated to the point that Putin’s press conferences mostly contained “softball questions,” besides one token critic who would be “drowned in a copious amount of bullshit.” Kovalev called U.S. journalists his “doomed colleagues” after Trump’s first press conference in months in January 2017 in which he berated CNN as “fake news” and fielded softball questions from the likes of Breitbart representatives.
Granted that Obama widely criticized Fox, though he steered clear from calling them "fake news" just because they presented something in a way he didn't appreciate. There is a difference in the tone and viciousness with how Trump and aides like Gingrich talk about how they need to "break" the press, compared to Obama's complaints. And there is a big difference in that Obama never aligned himself so closely with a dictator like Putin. Obama met with dictators, but he has criticized crackdowns on journalists in Asia, though many said he could be more forceful with such criticism. China is even worse than Russia in press freedom, ranking 186th.
The Trump-Putin alignment leads one to imagine all sorts of horrors down the road, including U.S. media conferences becoming like Russian ones and American journalists being killed suspiciously. It doesn't look good.
Here is a link to a petition to tell White House correspondents to stand up to Trump's media crackdowns.

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