Viktoria Marinova

The free press under assault: Investigative journalist raped and beaten to death

Viktoria Marinova is the fourth high-profile journalist to be killed in Europe since the beginning of 2017. Her death was particularly gruesome.

Authorities say Marinova was raped and beaten to death. Her semi-nude body was found in a park in the Danube town of Ruse on Saturday. She had been beaten so badly that she was unrecognizable.

“Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning,” Asen Yordanov, owner of news website Bivol.bg, told AFP.

Anyone who’s had the misfortune of speaking to me for more than five minutes, or whenever I’ve been moved to speak in a SAG-AFTRA L.A. board meeting, knows that one of my passions is the necessity and protection of a free press in the United States — and the safety of journalists and reporters.

Locally, I’m concerned with reporters being sent to fire lines to report on wildfires without being given adequate protection, i.e. breathing masks, etc.

And there is the greater concern of our current president breathing fire and brimstone against the press, even as threats of violence against American reporters ratchet up in response.

But around the world, the threat to reporters is so great it defies the imagination of people in America.

Contrary to what Trump has been saying at rallies, there is no “open borders bill.”

Image: President Trump Holds Make America Great Again Rally In Pennsylvania

The President of the United States said this recently at a rally:

“Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has signed up for the open borders – and it’s a bill. And it’s called The Open Borders Bill. What’s going on? And it’s written by – guess who – Dianne Feinstein.”

Here’s the problem: There is no such bill. Everything about that accusation is completely made up.

This is a lie so blatant that no excuse can be found in the realm of “maybe he’s just confused or mistaken.” It is so totally untrue that he must know he’s lying, and he’s lying on purpose.

The art of political campaigning used to be the art of spin, and the art of spin was to make your charge true enough that you could score a valid point. But now we’re in the era of make anything up, do it out of whole cloth, it doesn’t have to have any relationship at all with reality.

As Steve Benen writes:

When the lines between fact and fiction blur for the president, it’s unsettling.

But more broadly, Trump has also apparently convinced himself, not only that an imaginary bill is real, but also that he’s accurately describing the Democratic position on immigration policy.

To put it mildly, he isn’t.

I realize that the president isn’t a fan of nuance or substantive policy debates. He enjoys the convenience of binary framing: to agree with the far-right agenda on immigration is to be “tough”; to oppose it is to support “open borders.”

But no one of any influence in Democratic politics endorses Trump’s bizarre description of the party’s agenda. On the contrary, the Obama administration strengthened border security measures well beyond what we saw under his Republican predecessor.

Sexual assault happens to men, too. But there’s a difference between how it’s received if you’re a woman. I know.

I, too, am the victim of sexual assault.

I have shared this privately with very few people, but never publicly.

Because of shame. And in many ways, shame is the follow-up assault. It’s the lifelong coup-de-grace that re-assaults you over and over again at the start of each new day.

It happened to me when I was a little boy. I only knew him as “Uncle Tim,” a friend of the family.

I vividly remember the minute details, where I was, the fact that it was cold, what he did, what he said… but I couldn’t tell you the year or “Tim’s” last name. My best guess is that it had to be in the very early 70’s because that was the time period I lived in that house. That’s the only way I know.

So I completely understand when someone can remember some details but not others after the passage of time. It is not a mystery.

My guess is, “Tim” victimized other children, some in the house with me at the time.

It’s not a “recovered memory.” I never forgot about it and then suddenly remembered it later. I didn’t invent it or make it up. I’m not confused about who did it. I haven’t conflated him with someone else.

I did tell my mother a few years after it happened, and she wept that she had put me in such a position as to allow such a person into the home, but it wasn’t her fault, just like it wasn’t my fault. She wasn’t in a good place, either, and I learned many years later there was abuse she had endured that I never knew about.

Over the years the people I confided in never upbraided me for it, never accused me of “asking for it,” or said it was my fault because I was wearing something inappropriate.

But if I were a woman that’s the reaction I’d probably get. I’m sure my mom got that reaction. I bet she got that reaction from people who were supposed to love her.

What a horrorshow this planet can sometimes be.

I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have the anger and doubt thrown at you on top of all the shame, the questioning that you didn’t fight hard enough, that maybe, deep down inside, it was your fault.

But it’s not. If it happened to you, it’s not your fault. No matter how many years it takes you to find the strength to tell someone about it.