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White House press secretary tells reporters to stop asking her questions about The New York Times op-ed and posts the newspaper’s telephone number with instructions to call. As the calls flood in, one journalist reports getting 15 in an hour, 12 negative (including one advocating hanging) and three appreciating the publication. President Trump extends his assault on the free press to an official event for sheriffs at the White House. At a Montana campaign rally, the president praises Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, who physically attacked a newspaper reporter, as “a fighter.” Twitter permanently suspends Alex Jones and his far-right false conspiracy peddling site for violating policies against abusive behavior. Records about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh relating to his years in the George W. Bush White House withheld by Republicans begin to leak into public view. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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

U.S.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Posts New York Times Phone Number to Urge Calls on Op-Ed Source
Sanders tweeted out a message on Thursday urging those who want to know the identity of the “gutless coward” who wrote a scathing anonymous New York Times op-ed about President Donald Trump to call the publication’s opinion desk. The message called the Times “complicit in this deceitful act.”
VARIETY

‘There’s a New Sheriff in Town’: Trump Uses Official Events to Wage Campaign Against Press
During an official event at the White House, the President turned to the 44 uniformed law enforcement officers for explicit support as he attacked the “dishonest media” as a “disgrace” following the publication of the anonymous essay in the New York Times.
WASHINGTON POST

Trump Crosses a New Threshold for Anti-Media Rhetoric, Jokingly Praising a Congressman for Assaulting a Reporter
President Trump on Thursday night ratcheted up his not-so-veiled attacks on the media at a rally in Billings, MT, making light of an assault perpetrated by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) on a journalist and suggesting it was done on behalf of his state.
WASHINGTON POST

Alex Jones and Infowars Permanently Banned from Twitter for Abusive Behavior
Twitter has permanently banned Alex Jones and his Infowars show, saying the conspiracy theorist won’t be able to create new accounts or take over existing ones. Jones has previously used the platform to attack the relatives of children killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, which he has called a hoax.
THE INDEPENDENT

Partisan Brawl Erupts after Sen. Booker Releases Kavanaugh Documents
Democrats have fumed for weeks over the withholding of documents from Kavanaugh’s years in the George W. Bush White House. That secrecy collapsed in dramatic fashion Thursday as Democratic senators vowed to begin releasing records they said were unfairly withheld and highly relevant to the nominee’s confirmation.
POLITICO

Children’s Book Authors Are Selling More Than Books. They’re Taking a Stand.
Children’s books have always been political—that’s why they’re fixtures on lists of banned books—and children’s welfare has long been at the forefront for authors who write for them. Faced with issues from gun violence to immigration, children’s book creators are finding new outlets for their concerns, often banding together to increase their impact.
NEW YORK TIMES

 
Global

Protests Calling for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to Be Released Extend Across the Country *PEN Case List
The Monday conviction of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have triggered protests across Myanmar, with media denouncing the sentence of seven years jail time with hard labour. A statement was released by 83 civil society groups calling on the government to release the journalists.
DEMOCRATIC VOICE OF BURMA

Online Trolls and Fake Accounts Poison Arab Social Media
Despite Twitter’s recent announcement that it had suspended over 70 million fake accounts, conventional signs of social media popularity, such as trending topics and numbers of followers, have been exploited by networks of suspicious accounts to manipulate discussions, control narratives, and favor specific agendas in disputes across the region.
BBC NEWS

Chinese Activist Who Shared Anti-Censorship Techniques in Secret Trial
Authorities in Guangdong secretly tried Zhen Jianghua, a prominent anti-censorship campaigner, on subversion charges after holding him for more than a year. Zhen had registered his website overseas to elude censorship, and offered information and circumvention tools for accessing the internet beyond China’s Great Firewall.
RADIO FREE ASIA

Activists raise alarm over insidious creep of surveillance in the UK
Campaigners have sounded a fresh alarm against the normalization of surveillance across the UK, the effects of the “nothing to fear, nothing to hide” rhetoric, and unchecked experiments with public data-sharing.
THE REGISTER

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