The map, based on Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom rankings for 180 countries, shows home of the current Winter Olympics Russia in bright red, indicating a “difficult situation” for journalists and bloggers there. Russia, ranked 148th, shuts down seditious websites, bans so-called homosexual propaganda, prohibits religiously offensive expression, and heavily controls national TV stations, Russians’ main source of news.
The U.S. shows a “satisfactory situation,” but it has dropped 14 ranks since last year’s report and now sits at the 46th spot.
Eric Levenson explains the drop:
The rankings report blame the U.S.’s drop on its wide-ranging crackdown on whistleblowers, particularly Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning (who got a 35-year sentence for leaking documents), and the attempted 105-year sentence for Barrett Brown. To the American government, “The whistleblower is the enemy,” the report writes. Similarly, the subpoena of Associated Press phone records contributed to that drastic drop.
Friedersdorf’s response to the report:
Countries that scored better include Romania, South Africa, Ghana, Cyprus, and Botswana. And 40 others. Put simply, it’s an embarrassing result for the country that conceived the First Amendment almost 240 years ago. These rankings are always a bit arbitrary, but we’re not anywhere close to the top tier these days. Why?