This week on CounterSpin: When disastrous things happen, like the US invasion of Iraq or the Supreme Court dismissal of basic human rights, the undercurrent of a lot of news media is: Why didn’t we see this coming? How could we all have gotten it wrong? It’s—to use a maybe overused term—gaslighting, in which elite news media spin a tale that everyone, all of some presumed “us,” were blindsided by: in this case, a John Roberts–led Supreme Court gutting multiple legally and societally established precedents. Clarence Thomas is an obvious factor in today’s Court, as is Samuel Alito—but the man ABC News characterized as a “mensch” is at the center of the web.
So if the 4th of July is an occasion to talk about US history and its relevance today, let’s go all the way back to July 2005, when the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court was just one day old. CounterSpin‘s Steve Rendall and Janine Jackson hosted a discussion with journalist Adele Stan, who’d just written a piece called “Meet John Roberts” for the American Prospect, and Elliot Mincberg, then legal director for the group People for the American Way. We hear that conversation again this week.
Also on the show: Former New York Times reporter James Risen wrote an op-ed for the paper in 2020, in which he said that he thought that governments—he was talking about Bolsonaro in Brazil, as well as Donald Trump—were testing unprecedented measures to silence and intimidate journalists, and that they “seem to have decided to experiment with such draconian anti-press tactics by trying them out first on aggressive and disagreeable figures.” He was referring to, preeminently, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who may now be extradited to the United States, where he stands accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. If you haven’t heard much lately about the case and its implications, that might be indication that the experiment Risen refers to is working. Researcher and journalist Chip Gibbons is policy director at Defending Rights and Dissent. He brings us the latest on Assange and why it matters.
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This content originally appeared on FAIR and was authored by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.