3 jailed journalists, 2 very different reactions
Everyone knows that Roxana Saberi, a contributor to National Public Radio in Iran who has been in custody since January, was convicted last week of spying after an evidently coerced confession. You know that, because NPR and other media have been covering the story heavily.
But you may have forgotten that Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two correspondents for Current TV, have been held on similar charges in North Korea since mid-March. That’s because their employer has been maintaining absolute silence about the case.
While you can find 60 mentions of the Saberi case at the NPR website and 16 mentions of her case at Current TV’s site, there is not a word about the plight of Ling and Lee at Current TV. Even NPR has mentioned the Ling-Lee case nine times.
“The most effective thing we can be doing [to help Saberi] is constantly and consistently shining a light on the story,” said Vivian Schiller, the chief executive of NPR, speaking tonight on the PBS News Hour. “It’s the best thing we can do for her.”
In the effort to keep Saberi’s case at the forefront, the network even drew strong support Sunday for the jailed journalist from President Obama.
At Current TV, however, “no comment” is exactly all that chief operating officer Joann Drake Earl had to say today about the case of her two journalists, who were seized at the border between China and North Korea. They had traveled to China to interview North Korean defectors but apparently crossed the frozen Tumen River into North Korea.
It’s not likely that Current TV is any more indifferent to the welfare of its journalists than NPR, but Current TV apparently has been advised to keep a tight lip and low profile in the case so as not to endanger negotiations with the totalitarian and dangerously eccentric North Korean government.
Current TV has been relying on the help of Swedish diplomats, because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea. Current TV doubtless also benefits from the political clout of former Vice President Al Gore, who is the founder and chairman of the channel.
Even if Current TV feels obliged to hold its peace, there’s no reason for the rest of us to forget about Laura Ling and Euna Lee.