Threats

Law enforcement officials survey the scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Deadliest Attack On U.S. Journalists In Several Years Incites Grave Concern

June 28, 2018: Gunman Kills Five And Injures Others At Maryland Newspaper Prompting Many To Question Motives A gunman opened fire in the newsroom of The Capital Gazette of Annapolis, MD, killing five and wounding others. Local police say it is clear that this was a targeted attack, noting that the suspect had a longstanding feud with the paper and made[Read More…]

June 28, 2018 Press, Threats, Top Stories
The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

Many presidents have had contentious relationships with the press. President John Adams’ 1798 Sedition Act made publishing anything critical of the government illegal, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to sue the press for unfavorable coverage and other leaders have tried to control the flow of information. However, the animosity towards the press fostered by President Donald Trump many believe is unprecedented.

June 13, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, Threats
Trump Calls Leakers “Traitors and Cowards” In Aggressive Push Against “Fake News Media”

Trump Calls Leakers “Traitors and Cowards” In Aggressive Push Against “Fake News Media”

Trump continued making a connection between fake news and negative press coverage while simultaneously attacking leakers in his own Administration calling them “traitors” and “cowards.” Although CNN’s Brian Stelter points out Trump’s Justice Department “has prosecuted a few cases involving alleged leakers, not nearly as many as some media watchdogs feared, or as many as some Trump allies hoped,” calling out leakers as traitors chills a free press. FAW’s spotlight on leakers points out that “aggressive prosecution of leakers began under President Obama – with the most famous case, Edward Snowden, still in hiding in Russia – and continues under President Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rumored to even be considering a lie detector test to ferret out leakers.”

May 17, 2018 Leaks, Press, Threats, Top Stories
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: President’s Press Credential Threat Will Be ‘Trumped’ By The First Amendment

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on May 11, 2018, on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.           Donald Trump can fantasize all he wants about taking away White House press credentials from news outlets that he doesn’t like. It’s unpleasant for the journalists[Read More…]

May 16, 2018 Access, Press, Threats, Top Stories
President Trump Takes Fake News Accusations To New Level Tweeting Negative Coverage Equals Fake News

President Trump Takes Fake News Accusations To New Level Tweeting Negative Coverage Equals Fake News

Presidents make use of all forms of communication to get their message out to voters. No other President has so effectively used Twitter as President Trump who has called it his “own form of media” used to counter “fake news.” In his latest deluge, President Trump equates negative news coverage with “fake news” and threatens to revoke press credentials (again). The central role of the First Amendment is to protect the people in their writings about government affairs and government officials—and especially when it is negative, as that is when the government is most likely to try to punish writers. As James Madison wrote in his Virginia Report of 1800, freedom of the press protects the “right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.” 

May 14, 2018 Access, Fake News, Press, Threats, Top Stories
Trump Tweets Credentials of “Corrupt Media” Should Be Taken Away

Trump Tweets Credentials of “Corrupt Media” Should Be Taken Away

President Trump has referred many times to “fake news” as coverage of him or his administration that he believes to be wrong. On May 9, however, he wrote that “Fake News is working overtime” even in the face of “the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else…” Then he wrote that “91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake).” The central role of the First Amendment is to protect the people in their writings about government affairs and government officials—and especially when it is negative, as that is when the government is most likely to try to punish writers. As James Madison wrote in his Virginia Report of 1800, freedom of the press protects the “right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.” Madison continued:  “Let it be recollected, lastly, that the right of electing the members of the government, constitutes more particularly the essence of a free and responsible government. The value and efficacy of this right, depends on the knowledge of the comparative merits and demerits of the candidates for public trust; and on the equal freedom, consequently, of examining and discussing these merits and demerits of the candidates respectively.”

May 11, 2018 Access, Press, Threats
Is Wikileaks a News Organization Protected by the First Amendment?

Is Wikileaks a News Organization Protected by the First Amendment?

Wikileaks role in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections continues to be investigated even as leakers face increasing recriminations under the Trump administration. What is next for Julian Assange and the tempest he unleashed? It depends on whether you think Assange is running a media organization or not. If he is, then the question is whether Wikileaks should be protected by freedom of the press? 

April 20, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, Threats
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: Sinclair, Next Time Just Put Your Name To The Message

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on April 5, 2018, on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.   _________________________________________________________________________________ Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent promotional message on the state of today’s news — delivered to its TV audiences nationwide — is as protected by the First Amendment as it was an[Read More…]

April 7, 2018 Below the Fold, Fake News, Threats
Reporters Harassed On Twitter While Covering Florida Mass Shooting

Reporters Harassed On Twitter While Covering Florida Mass Shooting

On Thursday, doctored tweets started circulating that assumed reporters’ identities, substituting fake text for the original tweets. Twitter says that impersonating a journalist during a mass shooting doesn’t violate its rules https://t.co/xvgHMFaglr pic.twitter.com/Nmzp1F97R4 — Nieman Lab (@NiemanLab) February 16, 2018 February 15th, 2018: Fake Tweets Shake Journalists Reporting on Florida School Shooting Miami Herald reporter Alex Harris was one of[Read More…]

February 16, 2018 Threats, Top Stories
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: Protect Journalists With The Same Laws That Protect All Of Us

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint. ___________________________________________________________________ I understand the motivation behind the just-proposed Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to attack those involved in reporting the news. The legislation comes at a time of particularly vocal attacks[Read More…]

February 9, 2018 Below the Fold, Threats