Saturday, February 25, 2017

Political Developments in the USA

The world is  presently going through what appears to be unprecedented change. The most obvious sign of this change at present are the statements and actions  of the new President of the USA, Donald Trump.

Later there will be political changes in Europe and Russia but any effects of those on the media there  will not be apparent until they occur. Changes in the USA political environment are already taking place.

The decision, apparently Donald Trump's , to ban a number of reputable American news reporters as well as the UK's BBC and Daily Mail from a regular White house  news briefing,  seems at best odd.

I know insufficient about the New York Times or other US newspapers involved, to be able to comment about those publications much as I enjoyed reading the NY Times and indeed Washington Post while in the USA.

The UK's Daily Mail  can be criticised for many reasons but being left wing is certainly not one of them. I have often felt that the C21 BBC is more left of centre politically than it used to be but generally its standard of reporting is excellent so  there is no obvious rhyme or reason for excluding from White  House briefings, reporters from those two British  media institutions - one right wing the other politically neutral. Frankly even if they were  very left  or indeed right, of centre politically, there would still be no good reason.

Censoring media and press reports is usually a trait of extreme  government  and up until recently the USA Republican and Democratic political parties had not seemed extreme.

Sometimes in China,  Russia, some Middle Eastern countries and elsewhere in the world,  issues of media reporting upon  matters in ways frowned upon by the state, even resulting the imprisonment of reporters concerned, sadly do arise.  However in most democratic countries, the freedom of the press is regarded as crucially important - at least in the West.

Thus in the UK, today's Times  makes substantial criticisms of the position of the  Labour party and warns of the negative effects Labour's current state may in the view of The Times, even have on the Tories and  UK government more generally.

Some friction between state and news reporting is bound to continue as is illustrated in the UK by the  post Leveson enquiry dispute about how newspapers should  be regulated, following misdeeds by certain reporters/publications, which misdeeds  included allegations of dreadful and unlawful telephone-hacking but excluding reporters from governmental  political briefings  goes well beyond that.

Hopefully, the American actions of excluding reporters from governmental news briefings will not prove to be the first steps down the slippery road to authoritarianism.

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