Continuing his world tour doling out righteous lectures to the world, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday proclaimed — in a sermon you have to hear to believe — that few things are more sacred in a democracy than “independent journalism.” Speaking to Radio Free Europe, Blinken paid homage to “World Press Freedom Day”; claimed that “the United States stands strongly with independent journalism”; explained that “the foundation of any democratic system” entails “holding leaders accountable” and “informing citizens”; and warned that “countries that deny freedom of the press are countries that don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves or in their systems.”
The rhetorical cherry on top of that cake came when he posed this question: “What is to be afraid of in informing the people and holding leaders accountable?” The Secretary of State then issued this vow: “Everywhere journalism and freedom of the press is challenged, we will stand with journalists and with that freedom.” Since I know that I would be extremely skeptical if someone told me that those words had just come out Blinken’s mouth, I present you here with the unedited one-minute-fifty-two-second video clip of him saying exactly this: (Watch here.)
That the Biden administration is such a stalwart believer in the sanctity of independent journalism and is devoted to defending it wherever it is threatened would come as a great surprise to many, many people. Among them would be Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and the person responsible for breaking more major stories about the actions of top U.S. officials than virtually all U.S. journalists employed in the corporate press combined.
Currently, Assange is sitting in a cell in the British high-security Belmarsh prison because the Biden administration is not only trying to extradite him to stand trial on espionage charges for having published documents embarrassing to the U.S. Government and the Democratic Party but also has appealed a British judge’s January ruling rejecting that extradition request. The Biden administration is doing all of this, noted The New York Times, despite the fact that “human rights and civil liberties groups had asked the [administration] to abandon the effort to prosecute Mr. Assange, arguing that the case . . . could establish a precedent posing a grave threat to press freedoms” — press freedoms, exactly the value which Blinken just righteously spent the week celebrating and vowing to uphold. Read more…