Listening Post

Abandoning Private Manning

Examining the issues behind the sparse media coverage of the Bradley Manning hearings in the US.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2012 10:16

On the Listening Post this week: Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning versus the US government - but where was the media? Plus, a look at Thailand’s controversial lese majeste law.

It was one of the biggest stories of 2010. Millions of classified US government documents leaked onto the internet through the Wikileaks website. Although it made the name of the site founder Julian Assange, the man accused of actually giving him the material is rather less well known. That man, US soldier Bradley Manning, is currently in a US prison awaiting trial over the case.

Of the 22 charges against Bradley Manning, the most serious include revealing classified information to unauthorised persons, violating orders and aiding the enemy. That last charge could lead to life imprisonment for the 25 year-old.

Two weeks ago, he spoke publicly for the first time in over two years in a pre-trial hearing where he claimed he was treated unlawfully whilst being held in military custody. This should have been an easy story for the media - an American whistleblower allegedly the source of many of the most important stories of the past two years speaking for the first time.

But the coverage, especially in the US, has been surprisingly sparse; it is conspicuous by its absence not least in the New York Times. Despite partnering Wikileaks on the story, they did not send anyone to cover the event preferring to use agency copy. Listening Post examines Manning’s treatment by the media.

In this week’s Newsbytes: Argentina's media giant Clarin has managed to hold out a little longer against the government’s attempts to break up their empire; a South Sudanese journalist with a reputation for criticising the government there has been shot dead outside his home; the US based Committee to Protect Journalists records 232 of them in its annual survey with Turkey, Iran and China taking the top three places in that order.

Our feature this week is on Thailand. Recently thousands of Thais gathered in Bangkok to mark the 85th birthday of their monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The monarchy has great importance in Thai life, so much so that a 100-year-old law exists making it a crime to say or write anything deemed offensive about the royal family.

The lese majeste law is not just a symbolic relic though; it has become a political weapon to be used with increasing frequency. From a handful of cases six years ago, there has been a steep rise as 2010 saw almost 500 cases.

Finally, one for the computer geeks out there – the story of the daddy of all computer images, the humble GIF. The famous image format is 25-years-old this week and we found this fun little video celebrating its birthday. ‘A Short History of the GIF’ chronicles the format’s journey from the late 1980’s through to today’s multi-platform media world using gif animations - and it is our video of the week.


Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

Click here for more Listening Post.


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