Constitution Journalism Truth

Journalist Protection Act Is Dangerous Anti-Trump Circus

Rod Thomson

Several Democrats in Congress have introduced the Journalist Protection Act, essentially because the President says mean things about them. But there’s also a nefariousness to this sort of law.

Ostensibly, backers argue that journalists are in more danger than ever  — presumably excepting those that are war correspondents or live in repressive regimes that account for most of the world — and its all because President Trump calls them “fake news” and criticizes them by name.

Yes, that is pretty much the argument, along with some very iffy numbers that even with their iffy-ness seem particularly small and inconsequential compared to the proposed federal government intrusion.

California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, who wrote the bill with more than a dozen Democrat co-sponsors, told CNN — where would he find a friendlier outlet? — the bill is designed to protect “journalists in every corner of our country if they are attacked physically while doing their job.” His bill would make it a federal crime to cause bodily harm to a journalist while he or she goes about reporting.

Further, and more to the political point of the bill, Swalwell accused Trump of creating a “toxic atmosphere,” emboldening people (read: reckless, angry Trump supporters) to attack members of the press. “I really wish I didn’t have to introduce this, but we have seen rhetoric from the president declaring the media as the ‘enemy of the state,’” Swalwell said.

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Threats against the media is actually nothing new.

When I was a newspaper columnist, I had plenty of threats. Twice I had death threats — both related to me writing about gay issues. It never occurred to me that I should have special, extra protections that say, a prosecutor, a social worker or a 7-11 clerk does not have. Extra protections for certain people is almost always a bad idea, just as hate crimes are a terrible and dangerous idea when the actual actions are already crimes.

Speaking on an ABC panel on this topic, employment lawyer Sara Blackwell said the bill is unnecessary and in violation of the 10th Amendment’s enumerated powers clause. “The states do make it a crime to hurt journalists. Each state has assault, battery, harassment, threatening laws, all of those kinds of crimes against anyone.” She said it looked more like a “Trump smear campaign.”

The 10th Amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Criminal law and law enforcement is the province of the states under the 10th amendment. There are very few exceptions. In fact, if this bill were ever passed and signed into law — which it most certainly will not be — it would very likely be struck down as unconstitutional.

And the numbers do not suggest there is any real problem for the basic American journalist.

The Freedom Press Tracker, which the Congressman and CNN referenced to show the violence, reports that there were 44 attacks against U.S. journalists while they were doing their job in 2017. There is no context as to previous year’s levels of attacks, as it appears this organization just popped up last year — coincidentally when Trump took office, not when Obama was bugging AP offices in Baltimore or threatening Fox News reporter James Rosin or journalists were being mugged in St. Louis.

Further, the Freedom Press Tracker numbers include 13 journalists who said they were falsely arrested, plus those hit by rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and so on during riots. So, probably incidental. It also includes aggressive video bloggers. One “journalist” named “Rebelutionary Z” shows up multiple times in the 44 count at different demonstrations in different cities. Draw your own conclusions there. This means that the acts of targeted violence for political reasons in 2017 were virtually nil.

Globally, however, its a different story.

About 70 journalists were killed last year around the world while conducting journalism and about 262 were imprisoned in connection with their journalistic work.

Zero from either category were in the United States.

Because there is no problem. There’s just anti-Trump politics.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy.  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


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2 replies on “Journalist Protection Act Is Dangerous Anti-Trump Circus”

Using the same style of argument that many in the gun confiscation camp use, I think it is time we revisit the protections afforded the press in the Constitution. At the time of of the founding of the Republic, the greatest technology that the press possessed was a type-set press. The reach of any member of the press was limited by the cost of printing, time of setup, distribution impediments, and rising but still not full literacy rates. The framers of the Constitution could not have foreseen the advent of radio and television and their usurpation as propaganda mills for the undermining of said Constitution, and likely would have written clear limitations of their protections into the Amendments if they did. Furthermore, they could not have foreseen the internet, and the advent of desktop publishing. If they did, I cannot fathom them granting freedoms to mass media that they would then restrict for individuals for essentially the same act (regardless of exposure).

Furthermore, some of the most outspoken critics of the freedom of the press in the world today are the media themselves. They claim freedom of the press on the one hand while on the other attempt to quell differing voices on the same matter, all based on the concept that others do not have the same protections under the Constitution since they are not a member of the “official” press as defined by… … well… … as defined by themselves. For some reason we are expected to adhere to the idea that a voice that is broadcast over a large area by a broadcast tower is automatically protected by the First Amendment while someone broadcasting over a YouTube page is not. Furthermore, even when it can be shown that the YouTube broadcaster is accurate while the tower broadcaster is not, we still protect the broadcaster while denying those protections to the YouTuber. This is analogous to winning an argument because you yell the loudest. It still doesn’t make you right. All this Journalist Protection Act will do is essentially amplify the voice of “official” press, increasing their ability to shout down dissenting voices regardless of facts, and the truth will be it’s biggest victim.

It is time to do away with the protections for the Freedom of the Press altogether, or conversely to extend them to all individuals (which is what I believe would have been the decision of the Founders). In the meantime, journalists can not be given MORE freedoms than are being granted to individuals, or this issue become more pronounced, and will result in more censorship of ideas, not less.

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