Considering the stakes of the J20 prosecution, I find it odd that more corporate media outlets aren’t covering it. In addition to the prosecutor’s arguments taking a sledgehammer to American civil rights, there are still two journalists among the accused. For a press circuit that warned of Trump’s threats against the press, why isn’t the issue getting more coverage?
For over two years, many in corporate media have been trumpeting the looming threat to a free press posed by Donald Trump. “Would President Trump Kill Freedom of the Press?” Slate (3/14/16) wondered in the midst of the primaries; after the election, the New York Times (1/13/17) warned of “Donald Trump’s Dangerous Attacks on the Press,” and the Atlantic (2/20/17) declared it “ A Dangerous Time for the Press and the Presidency.”
It’s strange, then, that the attack on the press that kicked off the Trump administration—the arrest and subsequent threatening of two journalists with 70 years in prison—has been met with total silence from most of these same outlets. Aaron Cantú, Santa Fe Reporter staff writer and editor at the New Inquiry (and a contributor to FAIR.org), and professional photographer Alexei Wood are both facing decades in prison for the act of covering the January 20 unrest in DC—charged with felony rioting for little more than being in the proximity of window-breaking and brick-throwing. (Prosecutors initially brought and then dropped felony charges against six other reporters, though how their cases differ from Cantú and Wood’s is unclear.)
ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman insists that these arrests “punish journalists for being near the action” and will “inevitably chill freedom of the press and, with it, First Amendment rights not only of the journalists themselves, but of all of us.”
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