Comey plot thickens as media teases out narrative of an angry President in search of a colorable rationale to fire an FBI Director whose widening investigation was seen as increasingly menacing; leaks undercut White House’s original account claiming the President acted at the behest of the Justice Department over concerns about the handling of the Clinton email probe. ‎Security experts voice concerns about a possible breach or bug placement as Russian official news agency TASS is permitted into Oval Office to cover Trump meeting with Russian FM while US media is kept out. US Ambassador to Qatar tweets about the mounting challenges of explaining US democracy to foreigners. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is booed but permitted to speak at historically black Bethune University commencement. New polls reveal sharp polarization on trust of the media. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

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


Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey
Trump had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment and was infuriated by what he viewed as the director’s lack of action in recent weeks on leaks from within the federal government. By last weekend, he had made up his mind: Comey had to go.

Trump Bars U.S. Press, but Not Russia’s, at Meeting With Russian Officials
When President Trump met with top Russian officials in the Oval Office on Wednesday, White House officials barred reporters from witnessing the moment. But the Russians, who have a largely state-run media, brought their own press contingent in the form of an official photographer.

US ambassador to Qatar appears to criticize Trump in tweet
US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith appeared to criticize President Trump in a tweet on Wednesday, expressing frustration at the news coming out of the United States. “Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions,” Smith said in her tweet.

Bethune-Cookman Graduates Greet Betsy DeVos With Turned Backs
Betsy DeVos went to Bethune-Cookman University on Wednesday, knowing her first commencement address as secretary of education could get ugly at the historically black institute of higher education. It did — fast.

Americans’ Attitudes About the News Media Deeply Divided Along Partisan Lines
Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t – or keeps them from doing their job.


Russian ‘Pokemon Go’ Blogger Convicted, Handed Suspended Sentence
A Russian court has declined to imprison a blogger after convicting him of inciting hatred and insulting the feelings of religious believers with YouTube videos, including one showing him playing Pokemon Go in a church.

FIFA President rails at ‘fake news’ stories and ‘Fifa-bashing’
Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa which has been devastated by an unprecedented series of multimillion dollar corruption scandals, has attacked “fake news” and alleged media “Fifa bashing” in his address to the congress in Bahrain on Thursday.

Mexico names new prosecutor for crimes against journalists
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday named a new head of its division for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, a post tasked with investigating the killings of journalists in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media professionals.

Inside Venezuela’s anti-government protests
Venezuelans angry with the government of President Nicolas Maduro have been taking to the streets almost daily since the beginning of April. Despite dozens of people being killed in protest-related violence, the demonstrations show little sign of abating.

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