Trump and Google Threaten Our Free Press
It is well known that that there is no love affair between President Donald Trump and the press.
And once again, the President and his dominions are on the offensive against whistle blowers and reporters who use sources inside the federal government.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this week that the administration is reviewing policies that would force journalists to reveal their sources.
Trump is again furious that his administration continues to leak information to the media, including probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions says it’s a matter of national security. Journalists would say it’s a free press which is vital to democracy.
The perfect example is the ongoing investigation against Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Many people would regard Assange a hero for exposing US military crimes in the Middle East and world-wide corruption. The government says he’s a criminal for exposing classified information.
“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” the nation’s top law official told the media.
Trump made a name for himself when campaigning by continually attacking the media for publishing lies and “fake news.”
“Every American should be concerned about the Trump administration’s threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists,” Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union told Reuters. “A crackdown on leaks is a crackdown on the free press and on democracy as a whole.”
US regulations give journalists special protections against law enforcement that might “reasonably impair newsgathering activities.”
Federal prosecutors must get special permission from the US attorney general before issuing a subpoena to try to force a reporter to divulge information to authorities.
Leaking information to the press is not illegal, but divulging classified information is.
This fact led to the imprisonment and pardon by President Barack Obama of Bradley Manning who provided classified information about US military operations that were criminal.
Back in the day it was also unlawful to help a slave escape, but it was the right thing to do!
Right now there is a political battle between the conservative media who support Trump and the liberal media who oppose him.
In addition to the U.S. government, Google is also attacking the free press after claiming it would keep users from accessing “fake news,” which has resulted in a huge fall in the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations.
Google’s search system has restricted access to alternative web sites, whose coverage and interpretation of events conflict with those of such mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post which Google promotes as news sources on its search engine.
Google is a monopoly that gets at least 80 percent of the online search traffic.
According to wsws.org, other sites that have experienced sharp drops in ranking include WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News and Truthout. Even prominent democratic rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International appear to have been hit.
By flagging content in such a way that it does not appear in the first one or two pages of a search result, Google is able to effectively block users’ access to it. Given the fact that vast amounts of web traffic are influenced by search results, Google is able to effectively conceal or bury content to which it objects through the manipulation of search rankings.
The Washington Post had earlier this year published an article attacking independent media via a blacklist of anti-war and anti-establishment sites most likely produced by the CIA for which it had to later print a retraction.