Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Among the important studies the Committee to Protect Journalists does annually are its reports on the number of journalists jailed and killed around the world.

Sadly, this year's report on journalists behind bars  -- just out today -- shows a new record high of 262, up from 259 last year. It also points at least a partial finger of blame at President Donald Trump's unfair fake news claims.

As CPJ stated:

Far from isolating repressive countries for their authoritarian behavior, the United States, in particular, has cozied up to strongmen such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan and Chinese President Xi Jinping. At the same time, President Donald Trump’s nationalistic rhetoricfixation on Islamic extremism, and insistence on labeling critical media “fake news” serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow such leaders to preside over the jailing of journalists. Globally, nearly three-quarters of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges, many under broad and vague terror laws, while the number imprisoned on a charge of “false news,” though modest, rose to a record 21.

See the full report HERE

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


It's hard to believe only two months have passed since The New York Times first broke the story of Harvey Weinstein and the numerous women who revealed acts of sexual harassment and other unacceptable behavior by the Hollywood producer.

Since then, the issue has exploded with similar claims, and worse, against powerful men ranging from Kevin Spacey to Matt Lauer. And with swift repercussions that have lost these and other men jobs, contracts and, most importantly, respect.

But as important is the respect, support and awareness that these brave women have sparked for themselves and other survivors of such offensive behavior -- and a believability that should not have taken so long to come about.

Among those also to be credited are the news outlets such as the Times, The Washington Post and others who have dug into the stories and disclosed the horrible pattern of abuse by some of America's most powerful and most famous men.

Knowing the backlash their subjects would inflict, the news outlets in most cases did the most thorough reporting through in-depth interviews and fact-checking of accusers, researching of claims, dates and times, and running down every possible piece of evidence that backs up their reporting.

In the case of the Post, which broke the story of legendary journalist Charlie Rose's history of harassment, a false claim attempted by the disgraced James O'Keefe outlet Project Veritas was exposed after an O'Keefe minion tried to trick the newspaper into believing a fake accusation about U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The Post showed its professionalism by checking the claim that Moore, already the subject of numerous accusations of abusive behavior and harassment of under-aged girls, had impregnated the woman as a teen. When it didn't check out, they revealed the attempted scam. 

And the Times continued its work today with a lengthy 8,000-word story on Page One that revealed Weinstein's behavior went beyond the harassment and abuse to influential deal-making aimed at silencing his accusers and threatening reprisals.

It reported, in part:

He gathered ammunition, sometimes helped by the editor of The National Enquirer, who had dispatched reporters to find information that could undermine accusers. He turned to old allies, asking a partner in Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s premier talent shops, to broker a meeting with a C.A.A. client, Ronan Farrow, who was reporting on Mr. Weinstein. He tried to dispense favors: While seeking to stop the actress Rose McGowan from writing in a memoir that he had sexually assaulted her, he tried to arrange a $50,000 payment to her former manager and throw new business to a literary agent advising Ms. McGowan. The agent, Lacy Lynch, replied to him in an email: “No one understands smart, intellectual and commercial like HW.”

The Times report goes further to detail how the Hollywood mogul allegedly traded favors with tabloid reporters to kill negative coverage of him or his clients, while also claiming many Hollywood agents knew of his sexual harassment and still sent clients to work with him. 

Time magazine, meanwhile, revealed its Person of the Year today, acknowledging these same sex assault and harassment survivors for the influence they have had. Dubbed "The Silence Breakers," the Time cover story describes several examples of women who were mistreated and how and why they came forward.

Time stated:
This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.

As the story continues to break and more names and accusers are expected to come forward, journalists need to keep battling against the threats of those who would seek to silence the silence breakers, and those who believe them.

And with the Pulitzer Prize juries set to review entries in just a few weeks, don't be surprised if these stories and others are among some of the top picks.