Attacks on the Press

Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Files Complaint with FCC Over Local Media Outlet’s Coverage of Her

Marilyn Mosby
Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby speaks on recent violence and says there is “probable casue to file criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case” of officers involved in the arrest of the black man who later died of injuries he sustained while in custody in Baltimore, Maryland May 1, 2015. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

On May 5th, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning news coverage conducted by a local television station.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband Nick Mosby are currently under federal criminal investigation. Federal investigators have subpoenaed personal financial records, Mosby’s campaign treasurer, and several Baltimore-area churches. According to The Washington Post, the couple’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, released a statement in which he characterized the investigation as “a political witch hunt in its purest form.” Moreover, the Mosbys’ house is under a lien by the IRS for unpaid taxes.

The complaint, signed by Zy Richardson, Communications Director for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, is “…requesting an investigation into the broadcasting practices and media content distributed by FCC-licensed station WBFF, a Baltimore City-based Fox News-affiliated network, specifically the content distributed to the public about the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO), a government entity, and its lead prosecutor, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby that upon viewing could reasonably be categorized as blatantly slanted, dishonest, misleading, racist, and extremely dangerous.”

In the complaint, Richardson accused WBFF of sharing Mosby’s home address in a 2020 television broadcast and claimed that the news station tried to determine the schools attended by the State’s Attorney’s children. The letter to the FCC also includes links to six articles published by the news outlet during the past year as examples of “WBFF’s distorted coverage.”

Richardson acknowledged First Amendment concerns, emphasizing “[t]o be clear, the State’s Attorney’s Office is not above receiving criticism. We welcome being held accountable, and we support First Amendment freedom of speech. However, what we find troubling, abhorrent, and outright dangerous, is that the distinctly relentless slanted broadcast news campaign, against the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and its lead prosecutor, has the stench of racism.”

According to The Baltimore Sun, Billy Robbins, vice president and general manager of WBFF, defended the television station’s coverage, asserting “[w]hile we understand that it’s not always popular with the individuals and institutions upon which we are shining a light, we stand by our reporting.”

In a statement released on May 10th, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called for the regulatory agency to “dismiss this complaint with prejudice,” asserting that “[t]he complaint her [State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby] office filed with the FCC asks the Commission to censor a newsroom simply because journalists are doing their constitutionally protected jobs and shining a light on the work of the State’s Attorney. Invoking the power of the state to silence journalists for unfavorable coverage strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment.”

WBFFThe Baltimore SunFCC Complaint Letter