Iraq Joins China In Suppressing Journalism About COVID-19

from the this-is-bad dept

We've been screaming from the rooftops about the need for more transparency regarding COVID-19, and tragically so many governments are going in the opposite direction. The latest is Iraq, where the nation's media regulator revoked Reuters' "license" for three months while also fining the organization ~$21,000 for daring to claim that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was actually higher than the government was reporting. According to the Communications and Media Commission, this violated rules and would "have serious repercussions on societal health and safety."

Remember that we've been calling out various places -- including inside the United States -- that are saying that posting "fake news" about COVID-19 should be a criminal offense. This is what happens when you allow that kind of thinking. The arguments made by those who think they're stamping out "disinformation" are identical to those made by Iraq's media regulatory agency to silence accurate reporting.

At the very least, it appears that Iraq's President recognizes this is ridiculous and dangerous:

Asked about the Reuters suspension in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN, Iraqi President Barham Salih said it was a “regrettable decision” taken by a commission which is independent of the government.

“From my vantage point you would not get me in a situation where I would defend that. I’m working with our legal team in order to revoke that and manage the situation,” Salih said.

Still, considering how many people are pushing for laws against or punishment for "fake news," please, please remember that it will absolutely be abused to stifle or chill legitimate, if confrontational, news reporting over government claims. And in a time when we need more transparency than ever, such crackdowns on reporting could mean many lives are literally put at risk.

Filed Under: covid-19, fake news, iraq, journalism


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 17 Apr 2020 @ 1:30pm

    Surprise!

    Narcissists in government don't like being exposed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob, 17 Apr 2020 @ 4:17pm

    There's never any fake news out of Baghdad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Apr 2020 @ 5:58am

      Re:

      "There's never any fake news out of Baghdad."

      Of course not. The original Baghdad Bob did such a great job every succeeding press rep for Iraq needs to conform to the same high standard of factual accuracy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Godfree (profile), 17 Apr 2020 @ 4:44pm

    State-sponsored truth?

    Oddly enough, people's trust in media rises with government involvement.The unspoken assumption of this culturally tone-deaf piece is that everyone – especially, perhaps, the Chinese people – distrusts government control of media because government is bad. That may be true in the US (less so in the UK, where the BBC retains the trust of most Brits).

    The Chinese are more trusting of government media censorship than the Brits. They overwhelmingly (85%) trust their government and media. They know they have censors and they trust the censors' common sense and good judgement. They also understand how the USA is destroying itself by allowing public information to be privately controlled.

    Here in the US we have lost trust in our 'free' media. We know it's censored but we don't know who censors it or why. We've experienced it lying to us too many times. Only 18% of us now trust it.
    The facts do not support the assumptions in this article nor, indeed, in any Western media regarding censorship in China. If forced to choose they won't swap their trustworthy censored media for our untrustworthy censored media.

    Canada's CBC, the BBC and Australia's ABC are twice as trusted (60%) as their commercial counterparts.

    Singapore's tightly government-controlled media is trusted by 72% of Singaporeans.

    China's government-controlled media is trusted by 80% of Chinese.

    America's media is trusted by 6% of Americans, according to the American Publishers Association's 2018 report.

    China has censorship to keep our untrustworthy garbage out. It's a disinformation filter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Apr 2020 @ 5:20pm

      China has censorship to keep our untrustworthy garbage out. It's a disinformation filter.

      How much were you paid by the PRC to say that — 50 cents, perhaps?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:48am

        Re:

        "How much were you paid by the PRC to say that — 50 cents, perhaps?"

        Don't knock it. He's giving good value for those 50 cents. Bringing factually correct statistics to the table then reversing the argument as to what they actually mean? Brilliant.

        Some PRC speech writer certainly earned his meager salary today.

        There's a good tell there as well. Western philosophy assumes that questioning criticism is healthy so the higher the proportion of people sceptical to the news, the better, really.

        To someone indoctrinated in an ultra-authoritarian dictatorship, however, it's assumed that "blind faith" is a solid indicator of trustworthiness. The same disease Orwell wrote about when he described the USSR, really.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 21 Apr 2020 @ 7:43am

      Re: State-sponsored truth?

      Wow. What a great wordwall extolling the virtue of blind trust in a government which is never questioned.

      That people in the west are sceptical of what they hear and see in the news is a good sign of mental health. I would have expected, in a saner world, that number to be lower.

      "China has censorship to keep our untrustworthy garbage out. It's a disinformation filter."

      With "disinformation" defined as "anything the government would feel to be an inconvenience".

      "Here in Hua Xia we have lost trust in the US's 'free' media."

      Fixed That For You.

      "China's government-controlled media is trusted by 80% of Chinese."

      No doubt the fear that admitting otherwise might bring you 5 years in jail serves as incentive to never opt "no" on that questionnaire for a great many.

      "The unspoken assumption of this culturally tone-deaf piece is that everyone – especially, perhaps, the Chinese people – distrusts government control of media because government is bad."

      Quite a disingenious rhetorical dance number there. Government control of media is always bad simply because WHEN government goes bad, that just means the tyranny goes unopposed for longer.

      Even young little europe has a few thousand years worth of experience when it comes to realizing that a free press counteracts bad government whereas a state-controlled press encourages and potentiates bad government.

      But you knew that, comrade.

      In western fables there is this story about "The emperor's new clothes". In the west it teaches the lesson that when authority is daft it needs to be questioned by people calling out.

      In china, apparently, that story would instead end with the emperor and his cabinet walking around with their dingleberries on full display after the child shouting about it was drawn and quartered.

      You keep getting a lot of Twainian statistics into those posts of yours, so all I can do is applaud. It's a lot of value you've offered for...about a buck fifty, by now?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2020 @ 7:35pm

    Its sad because its hard for the us to take any kind of morally superior position on anything and have it taken seriously by the rest of the world anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2020 @ 3:50am

      Re:

      "morally superior position"

      LOL - Who, when?
      Doesn't really matter what country, which one is more "moral" than another? This is laughable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Apr 2020 @ 6:16am

        Re: Re:

        "Doesn't really matter what country, which one is more "moral" than another? This is laughable."

        No, not really. Not to long ago certain countries upheld principles against which they could contrast themselves against the various dictatorships and ultra-authoritarian in the world.
        Today the US doesn't even dare to critizise Putin or Xi because they'd look like raging hypocrites right out of the gate.

        The Uighur concentration camps in Xinjiang? After a US vice president publicly advocated torture and the revelations of Abu Ghraib or Gitmo that's something the US has no moral ground to criticize anymore. "Enemy combatants" anyone?

        Civil rights issues and mass surveillance? After PRISM and Xkeyscore were revealed and with Bill Barr barking about about Law Enforcement supremacy China doesn't look that bad.

        Putin marched his army into Georgia, ending its brief stint of independence while looking for Chechnyan terrorists? Yeah, time to revisit the time the US lied its ass off about Iraq WMD's in order to invade and pillage the place.

        You have to be as deranged and malicious as Kim Jong-Un for the US to have solid moral ground to stand on in criticism. And wouldn't you know it, even there, instead the US president goes on a marketing campaign to cuddle with his new best buddy, Kim.

        I swear, there are examples of good old 18th-century prussian or british gunboat diplomacy and realpolitik more principled than what we see the "leaders of the free world" pulling off these days...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    elhoofyclinic (profile), 18 Apr 2020 @ 11:51am

    There's never any fake news out of Baghdad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2020 @ 2:37am

    Fake news is already illegal but no one usually enforces the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2020 @ 4:02am

      Re:

      "Fake news is already illegal"
      Where and how?

      "but no one usually enforces the law"
      Selective enforcement is standard aristocratic hypocrisy.

      Law 'n Order is the mantra of liars, zero tolerance for the masses while the so called upper crust gets a pass. Special sunglasses are not needed in order to see this.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2020 @ 11:39am

        Re: Re:

        Fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, inciting riots, stalking, and it's supposed to be enforced by the states but they don't. The states aren't Congress.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2020 @ 12:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, inciting riots, stalking, and it's supposed to be enforced by the states but they don't. The states aren't Congress."

          What is supposed to be enforced by the states? Fake news laws? There are no fake news laws at the federal level that I am aware of, do you have information you would like to share?

          In addition, if there were fake news laws at the federal level it is not the states that enforce it, the states are not the DOJ.

          All these offenses to which you refer (Fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, inciting riots, stalking) are these supposed be examples of fake news? Sounds more like Donald's daily schedule of activities.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tin-Foil-Hat, 19 Apr 2020 @ 7:44pm

    So when will the CDC be allowed to speak?

    I wonder when the gag order on the CDC will be lifted?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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