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ESPN suspends sports anchor Jemele Hill for calling for consumers to direct their opposition to the Dallas Cowboys and their advertisers after team owner Jerry Jones pledges to bench any players who take part in protests for criminal justice reform during the pre-game national anthem. Incident comes on heels of Vice President Mike Pence conspicuously walking out of an Indianapolis Colts game to protest the protests in what some critics are calling an expensive stunt. Twitter bars “inflammatory” paid placements of Tennessee Senatorial campaign video that refers to discredited allegations against Planned Parenthood. More details emerge on Russian tactics to sow divisions through distribution of controversial, politically charged content before the 2016 election. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

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


Examining the Factors Surrounding Jemele Hill‘s Suspension by ESPN
After Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced he will sit Cowboys players who do not stand for the national anthem, Hill tweeted that fans ought to boycott companies that advertise with the team, encouraging them to stop watching and buying Cowboys merchandise. ESPN has suspended her for two weeks.

One thing Pence failed to mention was the cost of flying from Las Vegas to Indianapolis and then back west to Los Angeles, a tab at $242,500—roughly $200k more than if he’d simply flown from Vegas to L.A.

Twitter pulls Blackburn Senate ad deemed ‘inflammatory’
Twitter is barring a top Republican Senate candidate from advertising her campaign launch video on the service because a line about her efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood was deemed “inflammatory.”

How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics
“This is cultural hacking. They are using systems that were already set up by these [social media] platforms to increase engagement. They’re feeding outrage—and it’s easy to do, because outrage and emotion is how people share.”

University of Wisconsin approves protest punishment policy
University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.


Moscow gives green light to CNN International broadcasting in Russia
Russia has dropped accusations against CNN International of violating Russian media law and said the U.S. channel could continue broadcasting in Russia. The head of broadcasting regulator Roskomnadzor said the issue was resolved after CNN agreed to rectify details of its Russian license shown onscreen during broadcasts.

British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran faces new charges, says husband
There have been indications that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be a victim of Iran’s animosity toward the BBC. She was a project assistant at the BBC’s charity Media Action. She’s also a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Brazil Congress passes law restricting online criticism of candidates
The Brazilian Congress approved legislation allowing parties and candidates to force social media outlets to immediately withdraw offensive or defamatory content by anonymous authors. The law was included in a late vote in Congress of a set of rules for next year’s general election.

China squeezing the lift out of the media
Chinese journalists have been required to take exams testing their knowledge of the Marxist role of journalists. As the University of Hong Kong’s David Bandurski explains, the content of these exams is almost irrelevant: it is reminding journalists that they work for the Party and no one else.

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