March 6, 2021
The Honorable Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Cc: Committee on Foreign Affairs
United States Senate
Re: Draft Global Press Freedom Act S. 204 – 117th Congress (2021-2022)
Dear Senator Schatz,
We take strong objection to the slanderous and baseless inclusion of Poland in the “Findings” section (points C and F) of your proposed Bill, which was recently read twice and referred to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
You have cited Poland as an example of a country that has “recently suffered the largest decline in press freedom” and where “its authorities have detained journalists for reporting on the pandemic.”
Your assessment is appalling and preposterous since it has no basis in reality. Today, with the unrestrained access and availability of various media channels and news outlets, Poland proudly offers its viewers and listeners the full spectrum of uncensored information – from the left to the right of the political and ideological spectrum. The years of communist censorship under the most adverse and repressive conditions between 1945-1989, not only did not stop its population in their quest for access to factual uncensored information and reporting but rather strengthened it after the communist system was abolished.
The Poles would not tolerate anything less than today’s availability of the broad spectrum of uncensored information. As an example of distorted news reporting by the privately-owned media, we have the recent case of a television station in Poland – TVN, a subsidiary of an American company – Discovery, Inc. Last week, its angry employees published an open letter, in which station-management irregularities were cited, quoting “bullying, corruption, and humiliation” and mandating news filtering and distortions. Journalists have been coerced into smearing the ruling (PiS) Law and Justice Party as de rigueur policy.
We, Americans of Polish descent, are impressed with the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the absence of censorship that characterizes the media along with its uninhibited access to all in Poland. We also support the basic concepts that the Global Press Freedom Act advocates, however, we request that you present specific, verifiable examples of this purported decline in press freedom and international standards (point C) in Poland. We would also appreciate your disclosure of which journalists, by name and under what circumstances, were detained for reporting on the pandemic (point F). The Act that you sponsored contains a severe accusation directed at Poland. Therefore, we expect you to provide validation of your accusations or we would like to see a removal of Poland from the list in your Act.