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Longtime 60 Minutes boss Jeff Fager ousted, purportedly over a harsh message to a reporter demanding fair coverage of #MeToo accusations against him: departure comes just days after network chief Les Moonves was forced out over #MeToo revelations. Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi defends seven-year prison sentence for journalists accused of exposing a massacre by the military. Pyotr Verzilov of Russian protest collective Pussy Riot is allegedly poisoned (see PEN America statement here). Showrunner Kenya Barris goes public about details of Black-ish episode shelved by ABC due to concerns about political sensitivity and alienating Trump supporters. -Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


’60 Minutes’ producer Jeff Fager fired after sending CBS reporter ‘unacceptable’ message
The specific violation involved a text message that Fager sent to Jericka Duncan, one of the CBS reporters who has been covering the fallout from Ronan Farrow’s reporting for the New Yorker. The allegations against Fager included unwanted touching. He staunchly denied the accusations.

‘Black-ish’ Creator Kenya Barris Breaks Silence on That Shelved Anti-Trump Episode
Mere days before its scheduled air date, “Please, Baby, Please” was mysteriously and indefinitely shelved. While Barris is strategic with his choice of words—careful never to utter the phrase “censorship”—the move turned out to be the last straw in his long-standing and already complicated relationship with The Walt Disney Co.

Facebook ‘Better Prepared’ to Fight Election Interference, Mark Zuckerberg Says
The unusual post is an answer of sorts to Facebook’s controversy-ridden last 18 months and reflects how Mr. Zuckerberg has staked his reputation on reducing the disinformation, divisive messages, and false news that have spread on the site.

Trump’s DOE Vows to Help College Students Restrict Free Speech (About Israel)
The Education Department’s new policy is part of a broader crackdown on dissent against Israel on college campuses. These efforts appear to be inspired by the very impulse that the right’s free-speech warriors claim to revile—the urge to suppress an argument out of fear that one’s position isn’t strong enough to withstand debate.


Myanmar’s Suu Kyi defends jailing of two Reuters journalists *PEN Case List
Myanmar government leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday the jailing of two Reuters journalists had nothing to do with freedom of expression and they can appeal against their seven-year sentences. The United Nations, human rights and press freedom groups and various governments have criticized the convictions.

Pussy Riot activist in hospital after being poisoned, say group
A member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot who ran on to the pitch during the World Cup final is in intensive care in hospital after losing his vision and being unable to walk. Fellow members of the group say they believe Pyotr Verzilov was poisoned.

Poroshenko outraged by Russian Supreme Court ruling on Ukrainian journalist Sushchenko *PEN Case List
Ukrainian President Poroshenko expressed outraged at a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court on journalist Roman Sushchenko, who was convicted for espionage and sentenced to 12 years in a high-security prison: “This case has been a farce all along, and the absurdity of Roman’s ‘trials’ is obvious to the entire civilized world.”

Jailed Ukrainian Filmmaker Sentsov Nominated For Sakharov Prize *PEN Case List
The annual Sakharov Prize was established in 1988 by the EU’s parliament to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) tweeted that it had selected Oleg Sentsov, saying the filmmaker was “illegally imprisoned” in Russia.

EU Parliament votes to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary
In a tense vote, a majority of EU lawmakers backed a motion that opens the door to sanctions against Hungary. Viktor Orban’s government is accused of silencing media, targeting NGOs and removing independent judges.

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