White House press secretary returns with a broadside on supposedly false news reports; pressed for examples, he comes up with just one – a British journalist’s mistaken tweet about the president not listening to the translation of his Italian counterpart that was quickly corrected. Fox News draws new attention for laying down White House cover with its report – un-bylined and attributed to an anonymous source – refuting reports that Jared Kushner tried to set up secret pre-inauguration communication line to Russia. New right-wing “Media Equality Project” launches with attack on advertiser boycotts like the one that ousted Bill O’Reilly from Fox News amid a sexual harassment scandal. Portland mayor seeks to block “alt-right” demonstrations as his city mourns, opening debate on hate speech and the First Amendment. Comedian Kathy Griffin gets her head handed to her and apologizes after releasing photos that appeared to show her with Donald Trump’s bloody, severed head. And insomniacs nationwide stage a digital riff-off on possible definitions of “covfefe” as puzzling presidential tweet hangs overnight, before being deleted and turned into a joke at daylight. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer


DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

PEN America’s take on today’s most pressing threats to free expression


Sean Spicer returns with a press briefing for the ages
The BBC’s James Landale mistakenly believed that Trump was not listening to a translation of remarks by Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni because Trump was not wearing headphones. It turned out, however, that Trump was wearing a small earpiece that was not easily visible. Landale was wrong. The error proves, once again, that journalists are fallible. Yet it is telling that Spicer chose to zero in on this particular incident after airing a sweeping complaint about “narratives that are wrong.”

Trump defends Jared Kushner by promoting anonymously sourced Fox News story days after blasting anonymous sources as ‘made up’
The Monday Fox News report that Trump retweeted lays blame on the Russians, rather than Kushner, for discussing the possibility of a communications back channel between the Trump administration and Moscow. The Fox report cited “a source familiar with the matter.”

Sean Hannity Promulgates Seth Rich Conspiracy, then Pivots to Slamming Rival Rachel Maddow
Hannity became the target of an advertising boycott engineered by Media Matters, a liberal group that has called him “a professional propagandist for President Donald Trump.” Although Hannity expressed his own distaste for boycotts and profound love of the First Amendment, he hosted Brian Maloney and Melanie Morgan of the Media Equality Project, a right-wing watchdog group, which introduced Operation Fight With Fire, as well as the hashtag #StoptheScalpings, an apparent reference to liberal targeting of conservatives.

‘Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment,’ Portland mayor says. He’s wrong.
As his city mourns two men who were killed after confronting a man screaming anti-Muslim slurs, Mayor Ted Wheeler is calling on federal officials to block what he called “alt-right demonstrations” from happening in downtown Portland, Ore. But history and precedent are not on Wheeler’s side. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that hate speech, no matter how bigoted or offensive, is free speech.

Maybe violence against journalists is starting to become a trend
Who shot out the windows of the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper on Monday? Authorities have yet to identify any suspects or motives, but the shattered windows at the Lexington, Kentucky, offices of the 147-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper is a potent image amid what seems to be increasingly brazen attacks on the media in President Donald Trump’s America.

Kathy Griffin shocks in gory photo shoot with Donald Trump’s (fake) head
Comedian Kathy Griffin and photographer Tyler Shields may have pulled off the impossible with the creation of a gory photo that’s spurring outrage on both sides of the political aisle. Internet reaction to the vivid photo was immediate, with many condemning Shields and Griffin for exacerbating an atmosphere of violence some believe has already been established by Trump.

What’s a ‘Covfefe’? Trump Tweet Unites a Bewildered Nation
The trouble began, as it so often does, on Twitter, in the early minutes of Wednesday morning. Mr. Trump had something to say. Kind of. “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the tweet began, at 12:06 a.m., from @realDonaldTrump, the irrepressible internal monologue of his presidency. And that was that.



Potential Threats to Czech Press Freedom Debated in Brussels
The European Commission and European Parliament are examining complaints put forth by Czech MEPs and free press advocates that the center-populist ANO party leader Andrej Babiš’s influence over certain media outlets pose a threat to Czech democracy. Also under the microscope are recent comments made, supposedly in jest, by President Miloš Zeman to Vladimir Putin about the need to liquidate journalists.

Demonstrators In Tbilisi Protest Azerbaijani Journalist’s Alleged Abduction
Dozens of people demonstrated in the Georgian capital on May 31, protesting the alleged abduction and forcible return of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Afqan Muxtarli to Baku. Muxtarli and his wife fled to Georgia in 2015, fearing for their safety over his investigations into Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s alleged links to corruption. Muxtarli went missing on May 29.

Why Press Freedom Is On The Decline In India
Even as there is no outright censorship or governmental interference with press freedom, self-censorship imposes a legitimate threat to plurality of views in national discourse. Laws should exist not only to protect the space for the media to act independently but also to guard against the co-option of the media by the executive.

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