Friday, December 29, 2023

'Gaslighting of the Worst Order': Blinken Calls 2023 Dangerous Year for Press


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on December 20, 2023.  (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Gaslighting of the Worst Order': Blinken Calls 2023 Dangerous Year for Press

        "How many journalists have been killed in Gaza with American-made, American-supplied weapons over the past three months?" responded Mehdi Hasan.


Dec 28, 2023


          U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken came under fire for the second time in just over a week when he wrote on social media Thursday that this year has been dangerous for members of the press—without mentioning the dozens of journalists who have been killed in Israel's U.S.-backed assault of the Gaza Strip.

          "This has been an extraordinarily dangerous year for press around the world," Blinken said.  "Many killed, many more wounded, hundreds detained, attacked, threatened, injured—simply for doing their jobs.  I am profoundly grateful to the press for getting accurate, timely information to people."

          Many journalists were quick to respond, often pointing to the death toll in Gaza.  Mehdi Hasan—whose MSNBC show was recently canceled—asked, "How many journalists have been killed in Gaza with American-made, American-supplied weapons over the past three months?"

          The United States gives Israel $3.8 billion in annual military aid.  Since Israel declared war in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7, U.S. President Joe Biden has offered "unwavering" support for the Israeli air and ground assault on the besieged Palestinian enclave and asked Congress for a $14.3 billion package.

          The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced last week that at least 69 media workers were killed in the region through December 23—62 Palestinians, four Israelis, and three Lebanese.  The Hamas-controlled Government Media Office in Gaza puts the figure for the strip alone at over 100 journalists.

          "Israel, with U.S. support, has killed more than 100 journalists in Gaza.  Is Blinken taunting the press with this post?" Ryan Grim, The Intercept's Washington, D.C. bureau chief, asked Thursday.

          The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill declared: "It is sickening when Blinken makes statements like this while simultaneously supporting Israel as it conducts its record-breaking, systematic killing spree of journalists in Gaza.  It's gas lighting of the worst order.  Shameful and gross."

          Also responding to Blinken, Chen Weihua, the European Union bureau chief of China Dailysaid that "more journalists were killed in Gaza in the last two months than any conflicts in recent decades according to CPJ.  And the U.S. was partly responsible because of its full endorsement of Israeli military operation and the weapons/bombs it provided and the cease-fire it vetoed."

          Although the United Nations Security Council last week finally passed a watered-down Gaza resolution—from which the United States abstained—the U.S. has vetoed multiple previous measures in that body and opposed others in the U.N. General Assembly, even as polling shows that like many nations around the world, a majority of American voters support a cease-fire.

          Blinken also faced backlash last week, when he made very similar comments during an end-of-year press conference.

          In addition to pointing to Gaza, critics of Blinken's recent statements on the media noted that the Biden administration is continuing its effort to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian currently detained in the United Kingdom.

          The 52-year-old father of two could face up to 175 years behind bars in the United States for publishing classified materials exposing U.S. and allied nations' war crimes, including the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and the "Collateral Murder" video.

          Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders warned earlier this month that "if the U.S. government succeeds to extradite Julian Assange to this country, he will become the first publisher imprisoned under the Espionage Act—but he will not be the last."

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Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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