State Department Touts 'World Press Freedom Day,' Internet Calls Irony

With the U.S. battling Wikileaks to keep its diplomatic cable stash out of sight, you have to feel for the State Department public outreach office who was charged with sending out the press release touting "World Press Freedom Day 2011" today. It began:

The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 - May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press. The theme for next year's commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.

Twitter wits (and BoingBoing commenters) fell over each other to poke fun at the release and what they consider the obvious Orwellian undertones of the event in light of the Wikileaks affair.

But all that occurred outside the State Department's official Internet presence. That changed when the press release got posted to the site's Facebook page. Now, almost 130 comments have been posted on the press release. Just about all of them have the tone Todd Sellers' did, "What is this opposite day? Freedom of the press in the US is collapsing."

It's all a little reminiscent of what happened to the magazine Cooks Source, which was found to be ripping off Internet stories. The publication's Facebook page became a hotbed of anti-Cooks Source comments, eventually pushing it out of business. Gawker memorialized the event with a headline that read, "The Internet Has Killed Cooks Source."

The State Department won't go down so easily, but I guarantee that won't stop Wikileaks supporters from trying.

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