12/19/17 Press Freedom


A disturbing attack on press freedom should worry everyone.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Last month, the Justice Department took the unprecedented step of forcing a foreign media outlet to register as a foreign agent.  Formerly named Russia Today, RT is partially-funded by the Russian government.  That was much of the reason used in ordering RT to register.

If that’s the precedent, then DOJ should demand registration by Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, France 24 and the BBC, just to name a few. They’re government-funded.

Other countries could make that same argument about U.S. government-backed Voice of America, Radio Marti, Radio Free Europe and Al Hurra.  And toss-in NPR and PBS.

Because of its foreign agent status, RT was stripped of its Capitol Hill press credentials. Such a move could hobble the network’s news-gathering.

Sometimes foreign media have reported news not covered by U.S. outlets.

Government is now deciding who’s legitimate news. The very reason our Founders crafted the First Amendment was to protect against government interference.

The failure of most U.S. media to defend RT’s press freedom is shameful. A CNN opinion column actually applauded the registration demand.  So did the Washington Post.

If foreign-ownership is a disqualifying factor then this is really bad news for the New York Times.  Its largest investor is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter at @BehindTheHead.

Follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkHyman.

Join us on Facebook.