By Will Arthur | United States
On February fifth an act called the Journalist Protections Act was proposed by California senator Eric Swalwell. The objective of this bill (which should not be too hard to infer from the name) is to make it illegal to “intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the course of reporting or in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering for a media organization” which can be seen on Mr. Swalwell’s site.
Swalwell stating the primary need for this act stems from President Trump and “his constant falsehoods as #FakeNews – it’s his casting of media personalities and outlets as anti-American targets, and encouraging people to engage in violence”. Swalwell is correct; Trump does seem to enjoy calling out mainstream media sources (notably CNN). Swalwell goes onto admit that Trump supporters are not the only groups guilty of these attacks. Where again he is correct; attacks and “fake news” insults can often be seen to be thrown at right-leaning sources (the alternative source Infowars being a good example) by leftist (anti-Trump) groups.
Nobody in their right mind supports violence being used in protests: whether it is by conservatives or liberals. A question does need to be asked though. What will another federal law do in this case? Are there not clear laws that prohibit assault and a very specific statement in the first amendment that gives individuals and groups the freedom of the press? Instead of putting more words on paper saying it’s illegal to attack journalists it might be more effective to actively combat this proposed violence against journalists. That means to combat actual physical attacks on journalists, not the vocal and critical opinions of individuals on today’s news sources.