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MacMillan publishing CEO John Sargent fires back at Trump, echoing PEN America’s conclusion that the White House’s cease and desist letter targeting Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” was “flagrantly unconstitutional.” Under pressure the State of New Jersey reverses ban on access to Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” by readers in prison (see PEN America statement on related concerns about access to books in prison in New York State here). President Trump took to the field for the national anthem at a college football game in his own gesture of defiance directed at anthem protests. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

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


Publisher: Trump effort to stop book ‘flagrantly unconstitutional’
“The president is free to call news ‘fake’ and to blast the media. . . . But a demand to cease and desist publication of a book is an attempt to achieve what is called prior restraint. That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional,” said Macmillan CEO John Sargent.

Ban on ‘The New Jim Crow’ Lifted in New Jersey Prisons After Protest
New Jersey said it had lifted the ban on a book about mass incarceration after the American Civil Liberties Union called for an immediate end to what it said was an “ironic, misguided, and harmful” instance of censorship. The A.C.L.U.’s letter argued that the ban violated the First Amendment and the department’s own regulations.

Trump stands on field for National Anthem at college football game
Trump’s appearance at Monday’s game came after months of criticism of the NFL over some players’ refusal to stand during the National Anthem. The president has repeatedly urged the firing of players who “take a knee” rather than stand and has called the players’ protests disrespectful to the American flag and country.

White House Staff Could be in Trouble if They Help Trump with Fake News Awards, Says Former WH Lawyer
A former White House ethics lawyer warned West Wing staff that if they help the president with “fake news” awards he has promised to hand out, they could be breaking the law.


Press Freedom on Trial in Myanmar as Reuters Journalists Face Court
The two journalists face up to 14 years in prison if convicted. Rights and media groups have criticized Myanmar’s new civilian government for continuing to use colonial-era laws to threaten and imprison journalists. Such laws were widely used by the military junta that previously ruled the country to muzzle critics and the media.

Rights group criticizes Thai PM’s cardboard cutout gesture
Thailand’s Prime Minister used a unique tactic to avoid questions from reporters—leave a cardboard cutout of himself for them to quiz. The gesture has been criticized by Human Rights Watch which said it shows the military junta chief’s “contempt of media criticism” in a country yet to restore democracy since a 2014 coup.

Samoa government criticised for lack of consultation on criminal libel
Critics claim the criminal libel law was re-introduced as part of a government-led hunt for online bloggers using anonymous names to attack government officials. The Pacific Freedom Forum chair Monica Miller said the re-introduction of criminal libel was a backwards step for Samoa as far as media freedom was concerned.

Supreme Court Upholds Journalists’ Freedom of Expression
The court refused to revive a defamation case against journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Raghav Bahl. The court said to the petitioner who claimed the two willfully spread disinformation: “You must allow freedom of expression by journalists. There may be some wrong reporting. But don’t hold on to it forever.”

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to [email protected]