DC’s Top Federal Prosecutor Condemns Violence Against Journalists at Capitol Riot
WASHINGTON – The top federal prosecutor in Washington said Tuesday investigators are aware of multiple reports of reporters being assaulted and otherwise abused during last Wednesday’s siege at the U.S. Capitol and vowed to bring the guilty parties to justice.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker said late last week that it had confirmed at least nine reports of assaults, five reports of arrests or detainments and multiple reports of equipment damage, threats and harassment in connection with the storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.
News organizations whose reporters and camera people were subjected to the violence included representatives of The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and the Associated Press.
Even as reporters tried to ignore the danger and work around the mayhem, someone scrawled “Murder the Media” on a door at the Capitol.
The incidents were condemned by industry groups including the National Press Photographers Association, which called the incidents “a reminder of the dangers journalists both in the U.S. and around the world face every day while simply trying to do their jobs.”
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the attack on the Capitol and the reporters who cover it “posed a grave threat to our democracy.”
“We owe a particular debt of gratitude to the professional and brave journalists and photographers who risked their safety to document the events as they unfolded,” Brown said. “Like members of Congress, their staff and others who work in the Capitol complex, these reporters work daily in those buildings, and an assault on the Capitol is an assault on them, too.
“We are deeply disturbed at the attacks, threats and rhetoric that we saw targeting reporters yesterday,” he continued. “Rioters at the Capitol called for violence against members of the news media, destroyed news equipment and verbally harassed journalists as the ‘enemy of the people’ — actions that not only pose a dire threat to those working tirelessly to bring information to our communities, but also to the press freedom that is a bedrock value of our nation.”
Leaders at the Society of Professional Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the National Press Club and National Press Club Journalism Institute called on authorities to investigate the incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable
“Journalists are witnesses and rarely in the history of our country has the work of reporters been more important than on Jan. 6, 2021, in documenting the deadly insurrection that nearly toppled our government,” said National Press Club President Michael Freedman and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane in a joint statement.
“They are important chroniclers of democracy. Press freedom is a key tenet of American democracy and democracies worldwide. Journalists’ ability to do their jobs and operate unimpeded by threats and violence is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Any attempt to interfere with that right should be investigated and wrongdoers prosecuted,” the statement continued.
“Last week’s insurrection was a direct result of a dangerous misinformation campaign spread by President Trump, members of his administration, and several of his most fervent supporters in Congress,” Freedman and Keane said. “The attacks on the press covering the scene last Wednesday were driven by President Trump’s repeated rejection of truth and his demonization of the purveyors of it.”
On Tuesday, Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia responded by saying “Such violence will not be tolerated.”
“We are resolutely committed to upholding the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, including speech, peaceful assembly, and press, and we will investigate, prosecute, and hold accountable anyone who attempts to obstruct or curtail these freedoms through violence or intimidation,” Sherwin said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is inviting members of the press to report any instances where a reporter, journalist, photographer, videographer, or other member of the press or broadcast media was the victim of an assault, threat, or property damage during the events of Jan. 6 at the United States Capitol.
Such information, including video and photographic evidence, can be emailed to USADC.CAPITOLRIOTS-PRESS-INJURY-DAMAGE@usdoj.gov.
“As appropriate, a prosecutor or law enforcement agent may follow up for further information,” Sherwin said. “We will spare no effort to bring to justice all those who committed lawless and violent acts of any kind, including against members of the media.”
In The News
WASHINGTON — Prosecutors on Sunday accused former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon of trying to defend against the criminal charges... Read More
WASHINGTON — Prosecutors on Sunday accused former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon of trying to defend against the criminal charges he faces through the media instead of federal court. They said in a court filing that Bannon wants to share witness statements with reporters in an... Read More
WASHINGTON — Sixteen civil rights groups are asking telecommunications companies AT&T and DirecTV to cut business ties with conservative media... Read More
WASHINGTON — Sixteen civil rights groups are asking telecommunications companies AT&T and DirecTV to cut business ties with conservative media outlet One America News Network. The groups led by media advocacy group Free Press accuse One America of spreading anti-democratic disinformation, promoting COVID-19 conspiracy theories and... Read More
GEORGETOWN, Del. — Dominion Voting Systems filed a new defamation lawsuit against Fox News Thursday, this one focusing on the... Read More
GEORGETOWN, Del. — Dominion Voting Systems filed a new defamation lawsuit against Fox News Thursday, this one focusing on the alleged roles of Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, Fox CEO and Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch in falsely accusing the company of rigging the... Read More
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump wants the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind Pulitzers awarded to The Washington Post and... Read More
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump wants the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind Pulitzers awarded to The Washington Post and The New York Times in 2018 for their coverage of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential campaign. In bestowing the award, the Pulitzer Board said the... Read More
WASHINGTON – Americans’ trust in the news media continues to plummet, dropping four percentage points from last year’s already low... Read More
WASHINGTON – Americans’ trust in the news media continues to plummet, dropping four percentage points from last year’s already low 36%, a new Gallup poll has found. The poll, which was released last week also found the media continues to be a decidedly politically polarizing issue... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A key piece of a bipartisan proposal to sustain local journalism has passed through the House Ways and... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A key piece of a bipartisan proposal to sustain local journalism has passed through the House Ways and Means Committee and is now part of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package currently awaiting a vote in the full chamber. When it was proposed by... Read More