Message control

Maud here. I’m cutting in on Annie’s clock to follow up on my prior post about FEMA’s attempts to censor coverage of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. As you may recall, the PEN American Center and other free speech groups denounced the FEMA restrictions.

Today Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo discusses some new Katrina censorship charges:

At first the evidence was scattered and anecdotal. But now it’s pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush administration’s takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press access to report the story.

First, there were the FEMA orders barring members of the press from photographing anything to do with the recovery of the bodies of the dead….

Now comes this post from Brian Williams, which suggests a general effort to bar reporters from access to many of the key points in the city.

(There’s more along these lines at Boing Boing.)

So when reporters do their jobs — you know, actually report what they see and call the government on it, rather than carrying water for the sitting administration — their abilities to see and to report are curtailed. Or, as Marshall says:

Take a moment to note what’s happening here: these are the marks of repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism. The crew that couldn’t get key aid on the scene in time last week is coming in in force now. And one of the key missions appears to be cutting off public information about what’s happening in the city.

(Emphasis added.)


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