Freedom of the Press

Hong Kong democracy protesters defy tear gas, baton charge in historic standoff | Reuters

 Freedom of the press is taken for granted in the West, but one struggles to remember the last time the American press took a principled stand against the government. A striking example of this is cited in the above story.

Publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, a key backer of the democracy movement, joined the protesters.

The New York Times famously buried a story about the NSA’s illegal exploits under pressure from the Federal government. The Times had every right to publish the story, and it had all the resources it needs to defend itself against any accusations the government might bring, but it caved to the government bullying. In Hong Kong, in contrast, in defiance of an autocratic government, the publishing magnate is willing to risk his own life, not just his fortunes. The New York Times and The Washington Post haven’t shown this kind of moxie since the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. The hippies were right, it seems. We should look east for leadership and inspiration.

Jimmy Lai’s participation in the Hong Kong protests should remind us that freedom of the press is worthless if the press has no balls.

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