Many have commented about the series of devastating events that hit American journalism last week: the deaths of two outstanding journalists (Bob Simon, formerly of CBS, and David Carr of the New York Times) and the suspension of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for, shall we say, apparently stretching the truth. That happened awhile ago, but things got a lot worse for Williams last week, when he was suspended. As is often the case when the media mess up, Jon Stewart was there to point out how and why this was a problem. And so the last piece of bad news last week, at least in the U.S. journalism world, was that even Stewart seems to be deserting us by leaving The Daily Show.
For Canadians, like myself, there was additional bad news, reported in The Independent, that our prime minister and foreign affairs minister apparently did nowhere near as much as their Australian counterparts to secure the release of our Al-Jazeera journalist detained in Egypt, Mohamed Fahmy. On top of that, John Baird, who has since mysteriously resigned as minister of foreign affairs, apparently told the Egyptians that if Fahmy was deported to serve out his sentence in Canada, he wouldn’t really have to do it — again, this is according to Fahmy — we’re not sure how he knew that. If this is true, we can understand why Egypt decided not to allow his deportation to serve out his sentence in Canada! The current situation is that Fahmy, along with fellow incarceree Baher Mohamed, who is Egyptian, has to undergo a new trial.
We who live in countries where press freedoms are taken seriously have to stand up for the Al-Jazeera guys, who were just doing their job, reporting on the situation in Egypt, when they were arrested and thrown in jail by Egyptian authorities more than a year ago. The international pressure has been somewhat successful so far. The Australians managed to get their guy, Peter Greste, released and sent home.
Despite all the bad news last week, there was one ray of sunshine in the news from Canada: The Sun News Network, a Fox-like propaganda machine masquerading as news, has shut down after nearly four years on the air. I guess we can be thankful for small mercies.