Gagging the press

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Gagging the press

 Ruling Democratic Party (DP) chief Lee Nak-yon vowed to pursue media reform, branding “malicious news reports and fake news” as an “anti-social crime” that causes confusion and distrust in society. The party plans to motion and pass multiple bills on media reforms in the DP-dominant legislature in February.

The bills include proposals to triple damage liabilities if a news outlet is found guilty of defamation with fake news, and mandate portal sites to remove false information. The guidelines to the act are ambiguous and could infringe on the Constitutional right of freedom of speech.

It had been the ruling camp which had repeatedly spread fake news. Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk deceived the people with numerous lies about his family and others. Rhyu Si-min, head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, wrongfully accused the prosecution of searching his bank accounts.

The DP is going after the media with its ambition to wield control over the press after attempting to tame the prosecution and the judiciary through its supermajority power.

Freedom of speech had been threatened since President Moon Jae-in condoned online offensives against the opposition. A professor came under heavy attack by the DP for her honest critical column. A law was passed to punish anyone defaming the May 18 Democracy Movement. A singer who was critical of the Moon government was removed from a radio program he had hosted for 10 years.

The U.S. has recovered from the irregularities and divisions from Trump and restored democratic values because it upheld freedom of expression. In 2018, an anonymous senior Trump administration official wrote a New York Times op-ed declaring he was part of the “resistance” inside the Trump administration working to challenge the president’s harmful inclinations. The author was later revealed as Miles Taylor, the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary.

Freedom of expression is the last resort to saving democracy. Freedom of speech was the first amendment stipulated by America’s founding fathers. But Moon’s power has turned a blind eye to violence against freedom of speech. A finance ministry official was hounded by his supporters for exposing the government’s reckless debt issuance attempt.

Lee was a journalist who stood up against the military regime. He was brought into politics by dissident-turned-president Kim Dae-jung who prized freedom of speech. We cannot understand Lee.
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