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Harming a Journalist Could Soon Become a Federal Crime

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.-15) today reintroduced legislation to better protect journalists and the free press who are essential to our democracy. The Journalist Protection Act would make intentionally harming a working journalist or intentionally harming a journalist with the intent of intimidating them from doing their job a federal crime.

“The increasing threats and acts of violence against journalists are deeply alarming, and they need greater protection in order to do their jobs safely,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our democracy and the American people rely on a free and independent press—a strong Fourth Estate—to keep the public informed and hold those in power accountable. Journalists perform a noble public service that the Framers understood was essential to a well-functioning democracy. We need to do more to ensure they can do their jobs effectively without fear of being hurt.”

“As threats and violence against the media have multiplied more menacingly in recent years, the press needs and deserves greater protection,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “The right and responsibility of journalists to hold accountable people in positions of power is absolutely fundamental to our democracy.”

“Democracy depends on the ability of journalists to ask tough questions and report the truth without fear of violence or persecution,” said Rep. Swalwell. “My bill will ensure that journalists are able to do their jobs without fear of harm.”

Today’s bill reintroduction comes as attacks on journalists are at an all-time high. According to the Press Freedom Tracker, there were 427 physical attacks on journalists in 2020 – that’s higher than the prior three years combined. The Journalist Protection Act makes an important statement that violence targeting the free press, an industry protected by the First Amendment, will not be tolerated, and will serve as the federal backstop if such crimes are not punished at the state or local level.

Organizations supporting the bill include: Communications Works of America, News Media for Open Government, News Media Alliance, Radio Television Digital News Association, National Press Photographers Association, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, National Newspaper Association, News Leaders Association, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, American Society of Media Photographers, National Association of Broadcasters, Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, North American Nature Photography Association, American Photographic Artists.

The Journalist Protection Act was first introduced in 2019.

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There are 4 Comments to "Harming a Journalist Could Soon Become a Federal Crime"

  • TheConsultant says:

    What idiocy, journalists especially msm democratic party propagandists shouldnt be protected any more than anyone else, especially when they lie and incite against those they disagree with.

  • Marc says:

    When journalist makes up a story, he becomes a fiction writer.
    Are those also going to be under special federal protection? What about sign makers, guys who design cereal boxes, or graffiti artists?

  • Huh? says:

    I do not understand how this is federal. Is it because the journalist is writing for interstate commerce? What is Congress’ power to protect journalist? When Congress tried to protect women from abuse the Court said in the Lopez case it was a reach beyond the interstate commerce power. Maybe over there, to make the argument that violence against women affects commerce is less convincing than violence against journalists?

  • American Patriot says:

    The Republicans’ greatest enemy, besides Democrats, is a free press. That’s why no Republican is backing this proposal.