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Pence says White House media spat incomparable with Myanmar jailings

November 15, 2018

US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said there were no double standards at play when he criticised Myanmar for jailing two Reuters journalists, given the White House’s own combative relationship with Washington media.

President Donald Trump routinely criticises reporting he dislikes as “fake news” and often labels journalists “enemies of the people”.

In the administration’s latest spat with the media the White House pulled the credentials of a CNN correspondent, promoting a court challenge by major news networks.

During a summit in Singapore, Pence took Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to task for the jailing of two reporters for seven years for breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested over their coverage of a massacre of Rohingya men during an army operation last year.

In his Wednesday meeting with Suu Kyi Pence called on the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to pardon the pair, calling their prosecution and jailing “deeply troubling”.

The following day, when asked about the White House’s own repeated clashes with the media, Pence said the administration has “stood strong on a free and independent press… and defended the freedom of the press on the world stage.”

“There is no comparison whatsoever between disagreements over decorum at the White House and the imprisonment of two reports in Myanmar,” he told reporters.

Media groups — including CNN and its arch-rival Fox News — are taking the revocation of the press pass of correspondent Jim Acosta to court.

The White House has dismissed CNN’s complaint as “grandstanding” and vowed to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit.

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Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.