The administration of US President Joe Biden has been slammed over its “silence” regarding Polish Prime Minsiter Donald Tusk’s anti-media clampdown in Poland.
Since assuming power late last year, Tusk has worked to purge his country’s State-owned media of its links to the defeated Law and Justice (PiS) party.
As part of that, one public TV broadcaster has been taken off air and numerous workers across media have been removed.
Those actions have sparked outrage both at home and abroad.
“The firing of personnel … raises questions about this new Government’s commitment to media freedom and the rule of law,” US Senator JD Vance wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
🚨Exclusive: Senator @JDVance1 Decries Biden’s Silence on Polish Crackdown on ‘Media Freedom,’ Rule of Law
“The firings of personnel at Telewizja Polska…raise questions about this new government’s commitment to media freedom and the rule of law."https://t.co/swqz7K0DPL
— Senator Vance Press Office (@SenVancePress) January 11, 2024
Vance went on to grill the Biden administration over its “failure” to comment on the issue, arguing that the US Government seemed to have no hesitation in attacking former president Trump and the current Hungarian Government regarding their records on media freedom.
“Biden administration officials, at least publicly, have said nothing,” he wrote, criticising their “silence on the situation”.
“This was not the case when Trump administration officials’ actions – which did not involve taking a major network off air – were nevertheless characterised in strikingly similar terms.
“Indeed, in recent years administration officials have appeared eager to comment on the state of media in neighbouring countries, particularly Hungary after its citizens elected a Conservative Government,” Vance said.
What is happening in Poland is setting a dangerous precedent for the whole of Europe: Autocracy in the name of liberalism is coming to a parliament near you soon, writes @tomaawroblewski. https://t.co/lKmkBhsEta
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 11, 2024
The Ohio Senator went on to speculate as to the reasoning for Biden’s silence, asking whether the Democratic administration’s previous passion for media freedom was genuinely inspired, or merely a vehicle designed to enhance political dominance.
“Some have wondered whether appeals to press freedom and the rule of law are used as a reminder of values which must be committed to or as cudgels with which to call down the wrath of international institutions and non-governmental organisations upon political opponents,” he said.
“It is my hope that it will always be the former, but I fear the reaction to Prime Minister Tusk’s handling of the media may suggest otherwise.”
Vance went on to urge Biden to step in on the issue to protect “the freedoms Polish and American citizens both hold dear”.
It is not the first time he has suggested US intervention regarding European issues.
Vance had previously written to Ireland’s Ambassador to the US to condemn that country’s push for new hate-speech laws, suggesting the possibility of sanctions should they end up being passed.
“The United States routinely condemns similar censorious conduct from China, Myanmar, or Iran,” he warned.
“Indeed, earlier this year, the US State Department imposed visa restrictions on Iranian government officials believed to be involved in censoring peaceful protestors and ‘inhibiting their rights to freedom of expression [and] peaceful assembly.’
“I am alarmed that one of our closest friends, a democracy dedicated to upholding cherished freedoms, should undertake such legislation,” he concluded.
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 25, 2023