In many countries, members of the press are under attack. Journalists are routinely targeted by tyrannical governments and other bad actors simply for doing their job: telling the truth. Some organizations seek to advocate on behalf of these intrepid individuals who fight to keep the people informed.
But others would rather use their platforms to promote a particular agenda. Recently, Reporters Without Borders released their annual report that reveals the most deadly nations for journalists. This year’s report lists governments that have murdered journalists, imprisoned reporters, and one country whose leader says mean things about the press on Twitter.
…and one country whose leader says mean things about the press on Twitter.
That’s right. The organization, for the first time in its history, placed the United States on the list of most dangerous nations for journalists. If you already believe this to be ridiculous, wait until you see their justification for this obviously false claim.
The report reveals that at least 63 reporters were killed while performing their duties in 2018. This represents a 15% increase over last year. When including citizen journalists, the death toll rises to 80.
Along with the U.S., the list includes Mexico, India, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria. With a straight face, the group is claiming that the United States belongs in the same category as Afghanistan and Syria when it comes to threatening members of the press. What is even more puzzling about this report is the organization’s reason for including the U.S.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. was placed on the list because of the shooting at the offices of Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD which claimed the lives of five employees. But this attack, while tragic, does not seem to represent a viable example of the type of concerted efforts to silence the press that is evident in other countries.
A cursory review of the incident shows that the gunman had a troubled history with the paper. He frequently harassed employees and was placed on probation for his behavior in 2011. Moreover, he had filed a lawsuit against the paper for defamation. The suit was thrown out since it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.
The actions of the shooter do not seem to have been motivated by an overall hatred of the media. Indeed, it is clear that he had a vendetta against Capital Gazette and there were indications that he could have suffered from mental illness.
The shooting was not an example of government-sanctioned violence against reporters. It was not the work of a terrorist organization that targets journalists. It was an atrocity committed by one individual and does not reflect a politically-motivated attempt to silence a news outlet. So, why would Reporters Without Borders use it as an excuse to place America on its list?
Promoting the False Narrative
It is highly likely that the reason for the organization’s assessment of the threat to journalists in the United States was inspired by politics. Since taking office, President Trump has been the subject of a vicious smear campaign from the progressive media, who have attempted to place him in the same category as totalitarian dictators who routinely murder hostile members of the press.
Of course, the left’s claims that Trump is oppressing the press and violating the First Amendment are demonstrably false. The president’s tendency to call out the unfair bias present in the Fourth Estate is nothing like the deliberate assassinations of journalists committed by countries like Syria and Afghanistan.
While the report does not specifically claim that Trump is responsible for the deaths of the employees at Capital Gazette, they did choose to use a story that American media has already blamed on the president. Reporters Without Borders’ decision to include the United States on its list is misleading — and there is no other viable motive one can ascribe to the organization.
The truth is that the United States is one of the safest places for members of the press. The government does not interfere in the operations of the media and it is not at all common for journalists to be murdered in the U.S. Perhaps Reporters Without Borders should stick to advocating for journalists in countries where their efforts are actually needed, instead of perpetuating a false narrative.