I have written before about how so many mainstream media outlets in the US serve as propaganda arms of the US government, especially when it comes to reporting on foreign government who have been deemed to be hostile to the US or when the US is planning to invade those countries. The examples are so many that only the most fervent apologists (which includes many in the media and punditocracy) could possibly deny it. The latest target of such propaganda is Venezuela where it is clear that a covert war is being waged against that country.
It is often the case that it is independent and freelance journalists working for smaller news outfits that are providing accurate reports from the ground, so naturally the US is seeking to curb their activities and, as Ryan Devereaux reports, the method chosen is to try to prevent them from going to those countries and, if that fails, to harass them by taking them aside for extensive questioning when they return and even demanding that they turn over all their materials, including the names of sources.
In February, The Intercept published a report, based on 19 sources, revealing that U.S. and Mexican authorities worked together in a sprawling intelligence-gathering effort aimed at journalists, immigration lawyers, and migrant rights advocates in the Tijuana-San Diego area. Photojournalists on the ground described being approached by Mexican police who photographed their passports. When asked who they were taking those photos for, one of the police officers replied, “For the Americans.” The story came days after the Los Angeles Times broke the news that two U.S. attorneys and a pair of freelance photojournalists working on the border were barred from re-entering Mexico. The San Diego Union Tribune and NPR added fresh details on the pattern of intensified law enforcement activity in the days that followed.
Authorities compiled dossiers on journalists and advocates, and in some cases, restricted their ability to travel following multi-hour detentions in Mexico. As they attempted to cross back into the U.S., the government’s targets were subjected to extended interrogations about individuals working with the migrant caravans; in one instance, a migrant rights advocate and U.S. citizen described being shackled to a steel bench for more than five hours. Journalists were presented with photo lineups of activists and asked who they knew. Their notes and electronic devices were searched. Agents were directed to send the intelligence they collected back to Washington, D.C.
The public radio program On The Media also had a segment last week on this topic where they interviewed a journalist who had been denied entry to Mexico and interrogated whenever she came back to the US.
News broke this week that nearly 50 people had been placed on a secret government list, and in some cases, tracked, detained, questioned and harassed by Customs and Border Protection agents at airports and other checkpoints.
According to a statement from the CBP, all of the names in the database are people who were present at a scuffle on November 25th involving members of a so-called migrant caravan at the border. Yet, according to NBC 7’s reporting, some on the list were not even present that day.
In this segment, Bob speaks with Mari Payton, one of the NBC 7 reporters behind the scoop, about response to the story and what it might reveal about how the Trump administration is thinking about the border. Then, he speaks with Kitra Cahana, a freelance photojournalist with images in National Geographic and The New York Times, about what it was like to discover that she was on the covert watch list.
Thanks to the publicizing of this issue, two US senators (Democrat Ron Wyden and Republican Charles Grassley) are asking the Customs and Border Protection office for an explanation of what is going on.