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CNN rejects as absolutely untrue the attempt, retweeted by the President, to undercut powerful televised town hall on gun violence with claim that it was scripted. Parkland school shooting survivor says he sees no point in censoring those who circulated false claims about his authenticity. Annual conservative political gathering coalesces around denigration of the press. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Trump tweets on student who claims CNN wrote scripted question, CNN disputes claim
CNN responded to Trump’s tweet saying: “There is absolutely no truth to this story — and we can prove that. CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night’s town hall, nor have we ever. Those are the facts. #FactsFirst” The network released a statement saying there was no truth to Colton Haab’s claim.

Florida shooting survivor David Hogg, target of online vilification, doesn’t want to ‘censor’ critics
After enduring days of online vilification, Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg said he bears no grudge against the social media companies whose platforms surfaced and circulated false allegations that he was a “crisis actor” merely playing the part of a grieving student.

As Conservatives Gather, Anger at the News Media Runs Deep
This gathering is usually a moment to hammer out what divides the fractious conservative movement. What it has revealed so far is what unites it: contempt for “#fakenews” and the journalists that former Breitbart News writer Ben Shapiro described as “advocates of leftism, masquerading as objective truth-tellers.”

Drive to ban library books with LGBTQ content erupts in Iowa
The controversy erupted in one of the most conservative Republican counties in northwest Iowa after somebody filed a statement of concern to the library about a book that featured LGBTQ content. Library director Amanda Vazquez said the complaint was rescinded after the person discovered it had kindled a firestorm.


EU set to prepare sanctions on Myanmar generals: diplomats *PEN Case List
In a statement expected to be released on Monday at a regular gathering of EU foreign ministers, the bloc is also expected to reiterate its call for the release of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, detained on Dec. 12 over accusations that they violated Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.

Lebanon gets tough on the press ahead of elections
A string of court cases and judicial investigations against Lebanese media figures is testing this country’s reputation as a forum for ideas in a region blanketed by censorship and threats to the press. A raft of taboos enshrined by law is shielding the country’s military, political leaders, and religious institutions from criticism.

Cambodian King Leaves Signing of Controversial Constitutional Amendments to Ruling Party
Rights groups have warned that the adoption of the lèse-majesté law and constitutional amendments could pose a serious threat to human rights and basic freedoms. These groups have noted that a similar lèse-majesté law in Thailand has prompted complaints that the law has been misused against government critics.

Spanish body apologizes over art exhibit censorship spat
IFEMA, which runs the venue hosting Madrid’s International Contemporary Art Fair, says in a statement the move wasn’t intended as censorship and said it acted in good faith. The statement Thursday didn’t suggest “Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain” by artist Santiago Sierra be put back on display.

Tanzania civil society decries ‘unprecedented’ violations
105 organizations have signed a statement warning of “tension within the country, involving violations of both the freedom of the press and of expression” and raised fears about the “suffocation of democracy” through “by-elections stained by irregularities, and bloodshed that endangers national peace.”

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