Senior Official Talks About Promoting Freedom of Expression (Warning: Strong Language)



FOGGIEST BOTTOM, WASHDC — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) launched its 6th annual “Free the Press” campaign today as part of its effort to mark the importance of a free press and independent media.  The campaign was supposed to launch in the lead up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3 but since the top offices were empty, there was no one authorized to grant clearance for the campaign.  A senior advisor (SA#A) to the Foreign Minister speaking on background admitted to TWW that the campaign was actually approved for roll out by Foreign Minister Hawwy but that Senior Advisor #B “seriously botched” the roll out.  Senior Advisor #A offered this reporter an opportunity to ask questions with a Very Senior Ministry Official (VSMO) to compensate for the “Free the Press” campaign fail at the Press Office. Below is part of our on-the-record conversation with the official who would only speak to us if he is on camera, in disguise

Q: Does the Foreign Minister believe that the press is the enemy of the people?

VSMO:  We honor the courage and service of journalists. We call on governments to protect the right to freedom of expression; and we emphasize our own commitment to promoting freedom of expression here in the Republic of Z and around the world.

Q: Let me put it another way. Does this building believe that the press is the enemy of the people?

VSMO: Journalists are being silenced around the world. How can they be the enemy of the people?  I ask you, how can that be, huh … how can they be the enemy of the people? You tell me.

Q: Well, okay let’s move on. What about the conviction of a non-violent protester for laughing out loud during a congressional hearing?

VSMO: What about it?

Q: Don’t you think that’s an outrageous development in this country?

VSMO: Well, look, we have rules. We didn’t say no laughter. Just laugh at the appropriate time and place, then no problem. He-he-he!

Q: The Deputy Foreign Minister just took office last week. I’m curious if he has brought in his own chief of staff.

VSMO:  Sorry but I can’t say.

Q: But why … I don’t understand. That’s not a secret, is it?

VSMO: <whisper> I’m not allowed to say why. I’m not allowed to say why. I’m not allowed to say why.<whisper> OK. Let’s move on.

VSMO: So, what else do you want to ask me?

Q: Yeah, what happened to the Foreign Minister’s shuttle diplomacy?

VSMO: Oh, it went pretty well, pretty well. There was no biting.  And the parties did not, and are not shooting at each other. So that’s a solid demonstration of the foreign minister’s adept handling of a really bad situation.  Considering that we sold billions of weapons to all parties, it could have been worser. Really worser. Believe me. The fact that they are still talking is a sign that diplomacy, when handled by a gifted professional can work every fcking time, and every fcking where!

Q: But what did he actually do?

VSMO: That I can’t tell you because it’s classified.

Q: Any chance that the press would be allowed to accompany the Foreign Minister’s next trip overseas?

VSMO: We’ll have to see …. we’ll have to see … you know that space is tight in those submarines.

Q: But … never mind.  So, can you definitely say when the Ministry’s Daily Press Briefing will be “daily” again?

VSMO:  It’s called the Daily Press Briefing, period!  We like the way it sounds.  And you know what? It will stay that way. Just because we’re doing the press briefing a couple days a week now is not a reason to change its name. And how come you’re not on complaining that ‘The Daily Show with Noah Trevor’ is called the “daily show” when it only runs from Monday through Thursday? What is that if not media bias, huh?

Q: But if the Daily Press Briefing is no longer daily, then …

VSMO:  This. Is. What. Is. Wrong. With. The. Press. Every. Fcking. Time. I’m giving you information and you’re being uncooperative. I had to cancel my kettlebell class just so I could talk to you. Jeez. This is the last time this yahoo will get to ask me questions .

Oookay. So, what I want you to understand is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continue to highlight the emblematic threats to journalists while we call on all governments to protect the universal human right to freedom of expression. We’re late in this year’s campaign but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. In too many places, reporters are considered enemies of the state, cursed, blocked, imprisoned, attacked, intimidated, disappeared, exiled or murdered for trying to report the news or exercise their freedom of expression. We find this totally unacceptable.  And we’re done here.

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