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We’re 46th! USA!

This is disturbing (or, at least, it ought to be), via Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic:    The United States Just Finished 46th in a Press-Freedom Contest

Every year, Reporters Without Borders ranks 180 countries in order of how well they safeguard press freedom. This year, the United States suffered a precipitous drop.

The latest Press Freedom Index ranked the U.S. 46th.

[...]

Take it from Lee Greenwood. "I’m proud to be an American because at least I know I’m freer than 47th-ranked Haiti" just doesn’t have the same exceptionalist ring to it.

Indeed.

From the Reporters Without Borders report:

US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government.

The variables used are pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure.  The methodology can be viewed here.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Hey now, we’re ahead of Italy, Haiti, and Burkina Faso!!! And hot on the heels of Romania and Papua New Guinea!!!

    Okay, yea, I’ve got nothing here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. James Pearce says:

    I’d be more impressed if I didn’t click the link and see this:

    While 2012 was in part the year of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 2013 will be remember for the National Security Agency computer specialist Edward Snowden, who exposed the mass surveillance methods developed by the US intelligence agencies.

    Nice to know that when a guy steals classified data and flees the country, we lose rank in the “Press Freedom Contest.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  3. Robert Levine says:

    @James Pearce:

    If one views Snowden as a whistleblower, and the information he disclosed as improperly classified in the first place, then the US deserves to lose rank.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  4. Jeremy R says:

    This is disturbing (or, at least, it ought to be).

    It’s odd, no one seemed to be similarly disturbed when they ranked us even lower (47th), two years ago, over arrests at the Occupy protests.

    What you’re looking at here is a subjective poll of correspondents, journalists, human rights activists, etc. who in 2012 where broadly sympathetic with the Occupy movement, and are currently extremely sympathetic to Snowden & Greenwald’s crusade, and they’re expressing their activism through this Index. There’s no other way to explain, for example, the UK ranking 13 places higher than the US, when they’re participating in the same intelligence programs, with the UK actually operating many of them, when the Cameron gov’t has used a much heavier hand against the Snowden disclosure reporting, and when the Guardian actually sent their files to the US (NYT and Propublica), because they knew they’d be protected from destruction or seizure by the more expansive press freedoms here.

    Also:

    And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government.

    Skipping over the fact that adding up the maximum possible sentences for crimes someone has been charged with is idiotic, I honestly do not get the bizarre martyrdom of Barrett Brown. He presented himself as the spokesperson for Anonymous, participated in computer crimes and blackmail, threatened an FBI agent and his children, linked to a stolen credit card information and attempted to organize “doxing” and “ops” against his internet critics. Stamping yourself with the label of journalist isn’t an all-purpose “get of jail free” card for petty criminals.

    James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information.

    Shouldn’t that have already been factored into their previous rankings, as Risen’s original subpoena dates back to 2008? This is worth a read too, from Eric Posner:

    The press is wrong to demand a reporter’s privilege for James Risen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. James Pearce says:

    @Robert Levine:

    If one views Snowden as a whistleblower, and the information he disclosed as improperly classified in the first place, then the US deserves to lose rank.

    What does any of that have to do with freedom of the press?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  6. @Jeremy R:

    It’s odd, no one seemed to be similarly disturbed when they ranked us even lower (47th), two years ago, over arrests at the Occupy protests.

    Am I allowed to be retroactively disturbed?

    (Further, I doubt that “no one” was disturbed at time.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. Ben Wolf says:

    Let’s also keep in mind that journalists were arrested during the 2004 Republican convention. Press freedom goes hand in hand with freedom of assembly, which is basically non-existant in the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  8. bill says:

    @Ben Wolf: well,let’s just go back to 68 democrat convention….that wasn’t Bush’s fault.
    bear in mind that there’s an alleged liberal in the white house, 5 yrs running now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    Why don’t we go back to when you had a functioning brain?

    When exactly was that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  10. Grewgills says:

    @bill:

    bear in mind that there’s an alleged liberal in the white house, 5 yrs running now

    Alleged yes. Actual no. He is left of center, but more a moderate than a liberal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  11. William O. B'Livion says:

    @Grewgills:

    Alleged yes. Actual no. He is left of center, but more a moderate than a liberal.

    Well, you’re right about him not being a Liberal. Liberalism is primarily focused on individual rights, and the Left these days doesn’t believe in individual rights, only collective rights.

    But moderate? You’ve lost your stinking mind. The guy is a hard left progressive. He’s an old school class warrior, a fellow traveler to communists and anti-American terrorists.

    Yer delusional.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. KP says:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/test

    Its interesting. A couple of months ago, I marked in as libertarian left, by about -1,-1. Now I mark in at authoritarian left, by about -1,1.

    Not sure where I changed, but most of the current U.S. politicians rank in the middle authoritarian right.

    Some strange questions to be sure, but good for introspection.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0