freedom of the press?
June 3, 2020

About 60 million Americans were under curfew in 200 cities on Tuesday night, the eighth day of protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. Thousands turned out in Washington, D.C, and hundreds stayed out after the 7 a.m. curfew, which federal and military police spread throughout the capital did not enforce, The Washington Post reports. Many showed up for the first time in response to Monday night's crackdown.

In New York City, thousands remained out after the 8 p.m. curfew, but throughout the U.S. things appeared to be calmer than on previous nights. Journalists are exempt from New York City's curfew, but New York Police officers surrounded two Associated Press reporters just after 8 p.m Tuesday night and shoved and screamed profanities at them until they left. Videojournalist Robert Bumsted, documenting the protests in lower Manhattan with photographer Maye-E Wong, captured some of it on video.

Both journalists were wearing AP identification and told police they were media, and Bumsted reminded one officer screaming at him that journalists are "essential workers" who are legally allowed to be out after curfew. "I don't give a s--t," one officer said. "Essential to who?" another yelled. "Who are you essential to? Who are you essential to?! Get back!" Still another cop tells Bumsted to "get the f--- out of here you piece of s--t." They separated Wong and Bumsted and only allowed them to reunite when Bumsted said Wong had the keys to his car.

NYPD officials told AP the department would "review this as soon as possible." AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton said journalists "report the news on behalf the public" and "it is unacceptable and deeply troubling when journalists are harassed simply for doing their job." Police in other cities have shot reporters with pepper balls and rubber bullets, gassed them, arrested them, and otherwise harassed them for no evident reason. Peter Weber

June 2, 2020

People in China, where reporting on even small anti-government protests is censored, are getting full coverage of U.S. protesters and journalists being beaten and gassed by U.S. police, blinded by rubber bullets, and arrested in what looks like war zones. "Freedom is dead" in the U.S., Chinese wrote on social media, BBC News reports. "The U.S. police has lost all humanity." European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said "like the people of the United States, we are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd," adding that Europeans "support the right to peaceful protest" and "call for a de-escalation of tensions."

Australians, meanwhile, watched a widely broadcast clip of 7NEWS reporter Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers being clubbed, punched in the face, and battered by federal police clearing Lafayette Square of protesters so President Trump could walk to a church and hold up a Bible for the cameras. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressed "strong concerns" about the assault on the Australian journalists.

"We have asked the Australian embassy in Washington, D.C., to investigate this incident," Payne said Tuesday. "I want to get further advice on how we would go about registering Australia's strong concerns with the responsible local authorities in Washington," suggesting a formal complaint will follow. U.S. Ambassador Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. tweeted in response: "We take mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take democracy seriously." Peter Weber

January 16, 2020

A simple "no" is apparently not enough.

As the impeachment process begins in the Senate, lawmakers are subject to a strict mandate to avoid talking as the trial proceeds, and journalists are also facing an unprecedented crackdown on their access to senators for comment. But someone has apparently taken those two facts to an extreme, compiling a flash card for senators suggesting phrases they can use to get journalists off their backs, CBS News reports.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) later criticized the card as "ridiculous," and made her own list of requests for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican majority.

It's unclear where exactly the cards came from, but one thing is for sure: Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) didn't take their advice. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 14, 2019

The Department of Justice is revising its guidelines for how prosecutors can compel journalists to share information, The Hill's John Solomon reported Monday, citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the rule revision plans.

The changes have been overseen by the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and have not yet been approved by Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker or his predecessor, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Under current guidelines, which date to the 1990s, prosecutors typically must seek journalists' records only as a matter of last resort, even when investigating leaks. News organizations are also notified before a subpoena is issued to allow for a period of negotiation.

The changes in process have two primary goals, The Hill's story says: "The first is to lower the threshold that prosecutors must meet before requesting subpoenas for journalists' records; the second is to eliminate the need to alert a media organization that Justice intends to issue a subpoena." Supporters of such a revision say it is necessary to speed criminal leak investigations; opponents like Solomon argue it will harm media freedom and force journalists to "face intrusions on their reporting for convenience rather than necessity." Bonnie Kristian

July 28, 2016

Donald Trump has come under fire for denying press credentials to media organizations he finds unfair in their coverage of him, but a security guard at an event for his running mate Mike Pence took things to a whole new level Wednesday. Washington Post reporter Jose A. DelReal planned to cover Pence's first event since being named the Republican vice presidential candidate two weeks ago, but was turned down at the press check-in table because he works for one of Trump's blacklisted publications:

DelReal then tried to enter via the general-admission line, as Post reporters have done without incident since Trump last month banned the newspaper from his events. He was stopped there by a private security official who told him he couldn't enter the building with his laptop and cell phone. When DelReal asked whether others attending the rally could enter with their cell phones, he said the unidentified official replied, "Not if they work for The Washington Post." [The Washington Post]

When DelReal put his laptop and phone in his car and tried once again to enter through the general admission line, the same official stopped him and called over sheriff's deputies, who allegedly patted him down. When it was confirmed DelReal did not have a phone, the security person still would not let DelReal into the building.

"He said, 'I don't want you here. You have to go,'" DelReal said. When reached for comment, Pence press secretary Marc Lotter told the Post`, "Our events are open to everyone, and we are looking into the alleged incident."

But Marty Baron, the executive editor of the Post, said the incident adds a whole new level of concern for advocates of freedom of the press. "First, press credentials for The Washington Post were revoked by Donald Trump. Now, law enforcement officers, in collusion with private security officials, subjected a reporter to bullying treatment that no ordinary citizen has to endure. All of this took place in a public facility no less," Baron said. "The harassment of an independent press isn't coming to an end. It's getting worse." Jeva Lange

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