Every year, an organization known as Reporters Without Borders publishes a report called the Press Freedom Index, which measures the quality of press freedom in countries around the world. In their latest 2014 report, the United States dropped fourteen places from number 32 to number 46 out of a grouping of 180 countries.
Although this may not be very shocking considering the security controversy that marked 2013, this still puts into perspective how the U.S. has tarnished its noble reputation of being a land for the free.
Freedom of the press is expected to be ingrained into the very essence of what the United States stands for because it is mentioned in the very first amendment of its constitution.
The United States is supposed to be a pillar of hope to the entire world. The American government has always promoted the ideals of freedom and criticized other countries for oppressing their citizenry.
At worst, this report casts the U.S. as hypocritical for delivering mixed messages in its words and actions.
Last year, the United States was confronted with a tremendous scandal that resulted from leaked documents that Edward Snowden acquired through his employment with the National Security Agency (NSA). The U.S. attempted to capture Snowden, but failed after he achieved asylum in Russia.
Shortly thereafter, former Army private Chelsea Manning was condemned to a 35-year prison sentence for delivering a massive amount of government records to WikiLeaks. Clearly, through its actions the U.S. has sent a threatening message to any whistleblowers and potentially investigative journalist.
The United States has demonstrated that it is definitely willing to put aside essential freedoms for the sake of security.
Since President Barack Obama took office, eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act— as opposed to the three charged under President George W. Bush’s presidency— and this is president who was awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize.
What makes all this further frustrating is realizing that in the previous 2013 report the United States had improved by 15 spots (47 to 35), so our country has essentially reverted from the progress it made.
Personally, 2013 seemed like a tough year for the United States both domestically and internationally. This country’s reputation as a world leader has taken damage and is continuously being undermined by other powers.
The United States cannot afford to continue giving the world the impression that it is weakening, especially if its core values are involved. Our government should make a conscious effort to restore trust and confidence in its institutions and operations.