N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The decision to ban Russian media in the European Union did not deserve much attention. But one of the so called ‘European values’ has been, brushed aside by European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and the EU Foreign Affairs Vice-President Josep Borrell.
The question arises whether the presumed threat posed by Russian media is great enough to simply push aside such a fundamental value as is Freedom of the Press, even if to a limited extent and (formally at least) for a limited time.
To answer that question with a “yes” is to assign Russian media a lot of influence. And it plays (too) easily into President Putin’s hands, undermining the EU’s authority when it accuses other countries or its own member states of infringing press freedom. Viktor Orban, for example, will be happy.
There are also doubts as to whether the EU decision to block Russian media has a legal basis.
The decision is also patronising to EU news consumers, who are apparently thought to need protection from Russian disinformation. As if there weren’t enough other news sources to counter that.
Fighting disinformation with censorship is a mistake, wrote the European Federation of Journalists in a press release in which it opposed the EU measure. And the EFJ is right!