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Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, tells the 2018 PEN America Literary Gala that “the autocrats’ playbook for discrediting critical coverage… is now going viral” and warns “the effort to drive a rift between access to knowledge and the citizens of a country has a familiar ring to this dystopian novelist.” See more about what Stephen King, Morgan Freeman, and student activists Samantha Fuentes, Cameron Kasky, and Zion Kelly had to say about exercising and protecting free expression here. EPA bars news organizations from an agency summit and security guards manhandle a reporter. Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes says President Trump outlined his plan to discredit the press so that critical reporting on him would not be believed. Another study shows the hold financial firms have on local newspapers, and questions whether they will stave or starve them. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer


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


Stephen King Among the Honorees at PEN America Gala
The PEN Gala was an education in the dangers and rewards of free expression, with words from longtime celebrities and those forced into fame, from political prisoners and those lucky enough to get out.

EPA Again Bars Reporters from Water Pollution Event
Journalists said EPA staff at Washington, D.C., headquarters blocked them from entering the National Leadership Summit. EPA communications staff had told news outlets in advance that the sessions would be closed to journalists

Trump Admitted He Attacks Press to Shield Himself from Negative Coverage, Lesley Stahl Says
Trump admitted to Lesley Stahl that his relentless attacks on the press was a strategy to discredit reporters and news media organizations to shield himself from negative coverage. “He said you know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all.”

Hard Truth At Papers Across America: Hedge Funds Are in Charge
A group of journalists protesting outside the offices of a New York City hedge fund recently shined a light on a little-known fact about the state of the local American newspaper: Behind the scenes, financial firms often hold all the cards.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Gets an Earful from the E.U.
European lawmakers barraged Mark Zuckerberg with a litany of questions about his company’s global power and its misuse of user data. Members of the E.U. complained that Zuckerberg had evaded specific questions and repeat the same statements.


Myanmar Judge Allows Documents Police Say Came from Reuters Reporters’ Phones *PEN Case List
A Myanmar judge allowed the submission of evidence police say they obtained from the mobile phones of two Reuters reporters arrested in December for alleged possession of secret documents, in what has become a landmark press freedom case.

In Taiwan, Debate Over History And Censorship As WWII TV Drama Is Canceled
A Taiwanese historical drama about a nurse who runs away to serve the army of occupying Japan during World War II has been forced off the air amid concerns of censorship pressure from mainland China.

New Zealand University Destroys Menstruation Issue of Student Magazine
Staff from New Zealand’s oldest university have conducted a night-time raid to seize and destroy every copy of a student magazine, fearing that an illustration of a person menstruating on the cover would be “objectionable to many people”.

Spain Faces Risk of Becoming No Country for Free Speech, Javier Bardem Warns
Javier Bardem, warned that Spain risked a return to the era of dictator Francisco Franco as concerns mount over free expression with artists probed or jailed for voicing their opinions. “Being able to (legally) punish (an opinion) is a setback.”

Egypt: Prominent Blogger Wael Abbas Detained by Authorities
Abbas was detained on accusations that include disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group. He was blindfolded, taken from his home to an unknown location and prevented from contacting his lawyer.

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]