In the United States, 2014 was marked by judicial harassment of New York Times investigative reporter James Risen in connection with the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer charged under the Espionage Act with giving him classified information. US journalists are still not protected by a federal shield law that would guarantee their right not to name their sources or reveal other confidential information about their work. Meanwhile, at least 15 journalists were arbitrarily arrested during clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against black teenager Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
– From Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 World Press Freedom Index
The greatest myth we Americans collectively like to tell to ourselves is that we live in the “land of the free.” We particularly pride ourselves on “freedom of the press” — enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — but how free is this press really?
According to the World Press Freedom Index, published each year by Reporters Without Borders, not that free at all. I highlighted last year’s plunge in the index in the post: U.S. Plunges to #46 in World Press Freedom Index, Below Romania and Just Above Haiti. Here’s an excerpt:
As you might expect, the economic decline of a nation into rule by a handful of corrupt oligarchs will have many other negative repercussions. One of these is a loss of civil rights and freedoms that many of us have taken for granted. Reporters Without Borders puts out their Press Freedom Index every year, and the 2014 ranking came out today. It was not a good showing for the USSA. Specifically, the U.S. registered one of the steepest falls of all nations, down 13 slots to the #46 position. As the screen shot shows, just above Haiti and just below Romania.
Well the decline continued in 2014. Dropping three spots, the U.S. now comes in just below Burkina Faso, Niger and Malta to #49. The APnotes that:
The U.S. fell three places to 49th amid a “war on information” by the Obama administration in some cases. Reporters also faced difficulty covering events like demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, where a black teenager was shot dead in August by a white police officer, Morillon said.
It’s not just the U.S. either. There is a global trend away from press freedom, which makes perfect sense given that world wealth is basically being consolidated by a handful of oligarchs who don’t want the rabble to have access to anything but their various forms of propaganda. For example:
War, the rise of non-state groups, crackdowns on demonstrations and economic crises provided a backdrop for a tough 2014. The Paris-based media watchdog said two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed in its annual World Press Freedom index scored worse than a year earlier.
Western Europe, while top-ranked, lost the most ground as a region. Three Nordic countries headed the list, but there was slippage in Italy — where mafia and other threats weighed on journalists — and Iceland, where the relationship between the media and politicians soured, the group said.
Here’s the list of countries that ranked ahead of the U.S.
|41||Trinidad and Tobago|
When it comes to these United States, it’s not just press freedom that has been plunging. Economic freedom has been also spiraling down the toilet bowl ever since the year 2000. Recall the post from last fall, New Report – The United States’ Sharp Drop in Economic Freedom Since 2000 Driven by “Decline in Rule of Law”. Here’s an excerpt:
Expanded use of regulation has also been an important contributing factor to the declining ratings of the United States. During the past decade, non-tariff trade barriers, restrictions on foreign investment, and business regulation have all grown extensively. The expanded use of regulation in the United States has resulted in sharp rating reductions for components such as independence of the judiciary, impartiality of the courts, and regulatory favoritism. To a large degree, the United States has experienced a significant move away from rule of law and toward a highly regulated, politicized, and heavily policed state.
Land of the free?