author jailed for insulting thai king, and cnn plays along

i find this story fascinating:

An Australian author was sentenced Monday to three years in prison in Thailand after falling foul of a Thai law that makes it a crime to insult the country’s royal family.

first of all, it is utterly ridiculous that laws like this still exist in modern nations. however, those are the laws of the land, and writers and journalists criticize authorities at their own risk.

what i find to be the fascinating aspect of this story is a near throw-away line in the middle of the article:

CNN has chosen not to repeat the allegations made by Nicolaides because it could result in CNN staff being prosecuted in Thailand.

what? seriously? cnn? this is perhaps the greatest form of journalistic cowardice i’ve seen thus far. or perhaps it is sheer hypocrisy. cnn is holding back on reporting the whole story for fear that they too might face sanction. really? would cnn do this if they had a story on president bush? would they hold the story if they were facing retaliation from rahm emanuel? i’d guess that were there political waves to be made, cnn would report the whole story.

‘well,’ you might say, ‘pres. bush and rahm emanuel live in the united states, where freedom of the press is guaranteed.’ true, but if cnn were to face retaliation for reporting a story on israel that involved palestinians in gaza, i don’t think they’d pull the story. cnn makes a name for itself by exposing stories in the face of retaliation. the question is, why is cnn playing nice with the thai government on this particular story?

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