Jeff Bezos accusing National Enquirer/AMI of blackmail and extortion

Jeff Bezos, founder and major shareholder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, has accused ‘the top people’ at the National Enquirer/AMI of blackmail and extortion in trying to stop further investigations by the Washington, and to get Bezos to issue a statement saying they have no knowledge of AMI coverage being politically motivated or ‘influenced by political forces’.

AMI owner David Pecker has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump. In December AMI was entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice over to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. If they have acted illegally with the alleged threats that could affect that immunity deal.

Yesterday Bezos posted No thank you, Mr. Pecker

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.

…I didn’t know much about most of that a few weeks ago when intimate texts messages from me were published in the National Enquirer. I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter.

To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker

Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.

A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.

My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy.

AMI’s claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible.

Email sent Howard, Dylan (Chief Content Officer, AMI) to Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker) includes:

However, in the interests of expediating this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering.

In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images.

The photos are described.

It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.

Bezos:

Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)

In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie.

These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.

From an email on Wednesday from Fine, Jon (Deputy General Counsel, AMI) to Martin Singer (Mr de Becker’s attorney)

Here are our proposed terms:

2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.

3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).

6. In the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos Parties, AM is released from its obligations under the agreement, and may publish the Unpublished Materials.

Whether that constitutes blackmail and/or extortion, or whether it will warrant legal action or investigation, will no doubt unfold.

AMI has issued a statement in response:

“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him. Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”

Pecker is one of four AMI board members.

CNBC: National Enquirer publisher believes it ‘acted lawfully’ on Bezos story, vows to investigate matter

AMI’s assertion that it violated no laws in its reporting matters beyond the Bezos affair. In December, the tabloid publisher struck an immunity deal with federal prosecutors in connection with the $150,000 hush-money payment the supermarket tabloid gave to a Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump.

That agreement requires that AMI “shall commit no crimes whatsoever.” If it turns out that Bezos’ blackmail allegations are confirmed, AMI could lose its immunity.

Brett Kappel, a lawyer specializing in political finance and ethics at Akerman LLP, said AMI’s immunity deal could be at risk.

“AMI is looking at the very real possibility that it may be found to have breached the nonprosecution agreement and could be prosecuted both for the crimes that were the subject of the nonprosecution agreement and any subsequent crimes,” Kappel told CNBC.

“In addition, the lawyers involved will almost certainly face disciplinary proceedings by the New York State Bar and could be disbarred,” Kappel added.

Former federal prosecutor David Weinstein told CNBC that Bezos’ accusation “certainly sounds like extortion or blackmail.” But he cautioned that “sounding like something and actually filing charges are two different things. AMI will undoubtedly argue that their statements were simply litigation negotiation strategy.”

This raises the tensions between media and politics in the US. There is big money and big power in both politics and the media there. The whole kaboodle looks dysfunctional and a corruption of power.

Whether this latest move from Bezos lifts a scab or just adds more puss is yet to be seen.

Does playing God online lean left?

The Internet was once lauded as a great advance for free speech, but it has faltered as it has been abused by many, and deviously and potentially dangerously manipulated by some.

After the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the rise of Donald trump in the United States alarm was raised over the threat to democracy.

When politics is involved there will always be accusations that one side or other is benefiting or is being disadvantaged. One thing is certain – you can’t provide the right amount of balance for everyone all of the time.

There are challenges for those who run social media, from huge forums like Facebook and Twitter, to small scale blogs where moderation is a tricky task.

Decisions can be made by people, and they are also increasingly made by ‘algorithms’. The latter rely on human designed rules that can have unintended consequences, and can be manipulated by other people and algorithms.

Washington Times looks at Playing God online

There are many deities acting online.

Playing God, even online, is not as easy as it looks. Facebook, Twitter and the other technology firms in control of the social-media universe are learning that with nearly limitless power comes the responsibility to administer it fairly. So far social media has failed. Bias, mostly but not all left-leaning, has obstructed the free flow of dialogue. Unless the tech giants figure out how to remedy their tendency to mediate political discourse by leaning left, the bloom will fade from the unmatched flower of human connectivity, and bad things will follow.

Bad things have already happened.

As the number of social-media enthusiasts has exploded across our orb, so has a list of complaints from users who say their messages are electronically folded, bent, spindled or mutilated simply because of an offending turn of phrase.

Google and Twitter last week invited representatives from Facebook, Microsoft, Snapchat and some other of the nation’s most influential technology companies to discuss ways of countering “information operations” and safeguarding their platforms with “election protections.” Buzzfeed, an online news outlet, observes that following the political convulsions arising from Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, computer programs meant to block hacker mischief have been unable to discern the difference between hate speech and edgy opinion, some of it well meant, and this poses a clear and present danger to the First Amendment.

Those silenced are frequently conservatives.

I think that frequently they aren’t conservatives either. Pointing the finger without data or any type of substantiation lokas like playing politics.

The issue of social-media silencing has come full boil in recent days, triggered by the Facebook banning of Infowars conspiracy monger Alex Jones after he violated taboos. In domino effect, other social-media giants followed. Twitter shut down Mr. Jones for “only” a week.

Has Jones been punished for playing devil’s advocate, or for abuse of speech privileges?

Algorithms, or mechanical searches, sift through the billions of messages daily to filter out offensive content, and some of it, from both right and left, is offensive indeed. But that reflects the expertise and foibles of the humans who create the algorithms.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey concedes that his monitors favor left-wing causes, but says that isn’t political bias. Indeed, what makes bias so frustrating is that bias is often difficult to recognize by those with the bias.

It is also very difficult to measure with any accuracy, so it is easy to make general insinuations.

Bias is a symptom of the human tendency to favor the familiar and detest the dissimilar. Like a shadow, it is a constant companion in many a walk through life. Unlike a shadow, however, intolerance won’t disappear when someone turns on the light. Democracy, goes one marketing cliche, dies in darkness.

It is only through honest and transparent engagement with a variety of opinions that someone can evaluate the relative merits of opposing views.

That’s right in theory. But it’s common to seek opinions you like and accept them without question rather than assessing a variety of views.

And there seems to be a lot of dishonest and dirty manipulation going on.

Social media is regarded as electronic bulletin boards where everyone is free to post his thoughts.

That’s the theory. Many people don’t feel free to openly post their thoughts, for fear of attack and abuse – and attackers and abusers deliberately try to shout people down and drive people away.

If the gatekeepers of conversation continue to tilt left as arbiters of acceptable speech, they, too, are likely to be subject on one sad day to the government’s rules, and learn the perils of playing God online.

There are many gatekeepers, of various tilts.

Twitter algorithms may somehow be measured to tilt left, but much depends on who people choose to follow. Those who prefer feeds from Donald Trump and Fox News and Breitbart without balance certainly won’t be tilted left, they will keep having their right wing views reinforced. And those who faithfully follow CNN and Huffington Post will have left leanings reinforced.

Online media and moderators may try to play God, but there are no easy solutions.

I can see no easy way to make people assess a variety of news sources and opinions so as they will arrive at balanced views on things.

Free speech is proving to be a challenge online.

Free choice on what one reads and watches ensures it will be an ongoing challenge,

 

 

Trump, McMaster explain intel leak

A story yesterday from the Washington Post (summary of details from Politifact in The shifting explanations of Trump’s Russia disclosures):

The Washington Post on May 15 reported that Trump had betrayed the confidence of a highly secretive intelligence-sharing arrangement and jeopardized an intelligence source by disclosing details of an unfolding ISIS plot to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a May 10 visit to the White House.

“It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft,” the Post report states, adding that Trump also revealed the ISIS-held city where the source gleaned the intelligence, which was considered “code-word information,” one of the highest classification levels.

According to the Post, following Trump’s meeting with the Russian delegation, senior White House officials “took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.”

That information about the meeting was leaked has not been disputed. This is a serious issue in a very leak prone White House (and agencies).

An early response from national security adviser H.R. McMaster:

“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson statement:

“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism. During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

Later Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell said:

“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Washington Post has responded:

While the White House calibrated its early messaging, the Washington Post defended its reporting, accusing the White House of “playing word games” to blunt the impact of its reporting, and saying Trump’s disclosures had the potential to be “reverse-engineered” to figure out sources or methods.

It also noted that no member of the administration had denied that Trump had shared classified information with Russia, the crux of the Post report.

A later statement from McMaster:

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of the state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources.

“I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

Trump has tweeted:

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety”.

“Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

In a press conference later McMaster re-emphasised he thought that Trump’s conduct was “wholly appropriate” but obviously couldn’t divulge any details of intel revealed to the Russians.

“It was our impression of all of us who were in the meeting that what was shared was wholly appropriate given the purpose of the conversation, and the purpose of what the president was trying to achieve through that meeting.”

Did the president share classified information in the meeting?

“We don’t say what’s classified, what’s not classified.”

The story combined what was leaked with other information, and then insinuated about sources and methods,”.

I want to make clear that the president in no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation.

The leak was acknowledged.

I think that national security is put at risk by this leak, and by leaks like this, and you know there are a number of instances where this has occurred.

But his final comment has left the issue up in the air:

There are no sensitivities in terms of me or anyone who’s been with the president on any of these engagements. He shares information in a way that is wholly appropriate.

I should make the statement that the president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from, he wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.

So apparently it is wholly appropriate for the president to say whatever he likes, and reveal whatever intelligence he sees fit, without knowing where the information comes from or what the source of the information was.

Countries that supply intelligence to the US may ponder that when considering what information they supply.

Edited interview (thanks Gezza):

WaPo document archive on Trump

A book was published about Donald Trump last week – Trump Revealed

Trump’s response:

TrumpRevealedTweet

Washington Post’s response: ‘Trump Revealed’: The reporting archive

The Post is making public today a sizable portion of the raw reporting used in the development of “Trump Revealed,” a biography of the Republican presidential nominee published August 23 by Scribner. Drawn from the work of more than two dozen Post journalists, the archive contains 398 documents, comprising thousands of pages of interview transcripts, court filings, financial reports, immigration records and other material. Interviews conducted off the record were removed, as was other material The Post did not have the right to publish. The archive is searchable and navigable in a number of ways. It is meant as a resource for other journalists and a trove to explore for our many readers fascinated by original documents.

The archive is here.

NiemanLab responds: The Donald, documented: The Washington Post open-sources much of its Trump reporting

The Washington Post recently published a new biography of Donald Trump, for which the Republican nominee sat for more than 20 hours of interviews.

Now, in a welcome show of journalistic openness, the Post has published the raw materials that made up its reporting, including transcripts of those 20 hours with the Donald, for others to read — including other journalists.

Journalistic transparency is almost always a good thing — especially in the context of an extraordinarily contested race in which the media has been a frequent piñata, for reasons good and bad. (The Post has, at various times in this campaign, been both banned from covering Trump campaign events as press and given almost unthinkable candidate access for a book.) Like a data journalism project that releases its code on GitHub, or a documents-based investigation that puts its work on DocumentCloud, this effort by the Post is a move in the right direction.

News.com.au (via NZ Herald) responds: Massive 398-document archive on Donald Trump released they detail a number of fairly boring “things about the billionaire candidate we’ve learnt”:

  • Trump had a privileged upbringing
    Donald Trump benefited greatly from this, growing up in a world of wealth and privilege. He went to private school, was the only family in his neighbourhood to have a Cadillac, and was to follow his father’s business ventures.
  • Trump is proof celebrity life can be very lonely
    He himself admitted he doesn’t have a lot of people he can turn to. “He really doesn’t have the kinds of friendships that most people would describe… and never really has.” (so that goes back to well before ‘celebrity’ days)
  • Trump allegedly showed racial bias when renting his properties
    For example, an African-American man who went to inspect an apartment had his application denied, with the agent telling him there was no room. The following day his wife, a white woman, went for the exact same apartment, and was told they’d be delighted to have her.
  • Trump may have voted for Hillary Clinton 16 years ago
    When she was running for the US Senate of New York in 2001, he even had a fundraiser for the state Democratic Party in his apartment.
  • Trump may threaten you if you write a book about him
    “I just hope the book could be fair because, otherwise, you know, we’ll see what happens. But it would be nice if the book could be fair. But we’ll see.”
  • Trump (sort of) admitted he expressed initial support for invading Iraq
    In a 2002 Howard Stern interview, when Trump was asked if he was in favour of invading Iraq, he replied: “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
  • Trump claimed he’s not an insulting person
    “I don’t feel I insult people. I don’t feel I insult people. I try and get to the facts and I don’t feel I insult people. I hear what you’re saying but I do not feel that I insult people. Now, if I’m insulted I will counterattack, or if something is unfair, I will counterattack, but I don’t feel like I insult people. I don’t want to do that.”
  • Trump refuses to believe his fans are insulting people
    The reporters asked Trump what he thought about his fans calling Hillary Clinton a “b*tch”, and wearing T-shirts that read: “Trump that b****”.
    “I have not heard that, I don’t like that. But I have not heard that. I would not be happy if I heard it. No, I have not heard it.”
  • Trump will hang up on you if he doesn’t like the question
    Donald Trump allegedly created his own press agent. The Post said he would call reporters saying his name was “John Miller”, but wouldn’t even bother to disguise his voice. He would then give them fake news tips, telling them he would be at glamorous events with glamorous people.
    Boburg: “Mr Trump, we just have two more questions and then we’ll let you run. The story today about John Miller. Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a spokesperson? I think he hung up. I’m pretty sure he hung up.”

America’s response:

Yawn

 

“Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy”

While it isn’t surprising to see the Washington Post Editorial Board opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy for president the timing and the force with which they have expressed their opposition seems unusual, possibly without precedent.

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome.

The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament.

They detail:

  • He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance.
  • To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions.
  • Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together.
  • His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril.

And they go on to list:

  • Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower.
  • There is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington.
  • he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact.
  • Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.
  • What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous.
  • The Trump litany of victimization has resonated with many Americans whose economic prospects have stagnated. They deserve a serious champion, and the challenges of inequality and slow wage growth deserve a serious response. But Mr. Trump has nothing positive to offer, only scapegoats and dark conspiracy theories.
  • Mr. Trump speaks blithely of abandoning NATO, encouraging more nations to obtain nuclear weapons and cozying up to dictators who in fact wish the United States nothing but harm. Republicans…put forward a candidate who mimics the vilest propaganda of authoritarian adversaries about how terrible the United States is and how unfit it is to lecture others. He has made clear that he would drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to global security could be disastrous.
  • Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.
  • he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies.
  • Mr. Trump campaigns by insult and denigration, insinuation and wild accusation.

According to WaPo Trump is the worst of the worst.

The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters.

Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution.

Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.

I acknowledge that many people, including some in New Zealand and regulars here at Your NZ, see Trump as a refreshing alternative to establishment politics and power in the US and think that he could do great things.

But like the Washington Post I have serious concerns about his playing to populist prejudice, his lack of experience, his lack of substance, and his international threats that could put the world at risk.

Democracy has it’s strengths, especially when compared to the alternatives.

But democracy in the US, in an overreaction to a corrupted, money and business dominated clique) risks making a farce of itself and threatening the stability and well being of the democratic world.


Editorial: Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy

Transcript: Donald Trump’s interview with The Washington Post editorial board

 

Journalist risk has just increased

The Charlie Hebdo massacre has again highlighted that being a journalist can be a vrry risk occupation. Washington Post looks at this in Charlie Hebdo killings highlight the increasing targeting of journalists.

Perhaps the most unusual thing about the slayings of 10 journalists in Paris on Wednesday was that they occurred in Paris. Journalists are hunted and attacked regularly, though almost never in cosmopolitan Western capitals where free speech is a given.

Being a reporter may not be as dangerous as being a soldier, police officer, firefighter or coal miner — although it’s hard to know for sure, given uncertainty over how many people actually are journalists. But in many places, even outside war zones, carrying a notebook or a camera is a life-threatening proposition.

Journalists are killed for myriad reasons: for reporting about official corruption or organized crime, or simply for saying something unpopular. Sometimes, merely associating with the wrong sources can get a reporter killed

Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists were provocative over a number of years and knew they were taking risks. Many other journalists at risk are just trying to inform the public.

In all, some 60 journalists were killed on the job worldwide in 2014, and 70 in 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international organization based in New York. The group says the past three years have been the worst since it began compiling figures on journalists’ deaths in 1992.

Even that grim tally might understate the problem: The organization is still investigating 18 reporters’ deaths in 2014 to determine whether they were work-related.

Being killed is obviously a major issue but the threat of being killed can have a major effect on what journalists may risk investigating.

The striking thing about these fatalities is that they mostly were not the result of accidents or falling bombs and errant crossfire in war zones. In two-thirds of the cases, journalists died the way those killed at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo did Wednesday: They were targeted because they were journalists.

That is something that has changed.

Several observers suggest that the death rate for journalists has been rising as the tools to bypass the traditional media have developed apace. In short, journalists are more expendable.

“People in conflict zones used to consider reporters as something like the Red Cross or Red Crescent Society — neutral noncombatants,” said Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute, the educational arm of the Newseum in Washington.

Warring factions “needed reporters to get their story out,” he said. “If no one reported their side of the story, it didn’t get out.”

No longer, he said. Militant and terrorist groups are as adept at using social media as the savviest teenager. Rather than conduits for spreading the word, he said, reporters have become mere bargaining chips to be ransomed for cash — or worse. “Now,” Policinski said, “having a journalist [around] is intrusive.”

Journalist casualties are not just colateral damage, they are expendable tools being used in wars and in terrorism.

“These are murders, not accidents,” Joel Simon, the CPJ’s executive director, said in an interview. “Journalists die because they wrote or broadcast something that offended powerful figures in a particular society.”

And they often don’t get much protection from states.

The CPJ maintains an “impunity index” of how often journalists’ deaths go unpunished. Although the figures vary by nation, about 90 percent of journalist deaths are never prosecuted. Iraq has been the worst offender for six years running, with a 100 percent impunity rate.

The Charlie Hebdo killings will just add to the pressures on journalists in trying to keep the public informed.

It’s essential that the free democratic world maintains an effective press. THis has just become harder.