A reporter who has chronicled one senator’s threat to call the police on him for doing his job is now pointedly asking a question of that same senator, who supports the proposed Journalist Protection Act.
This week, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez used “Sunshine Week,” an annual event to support the right of the American people to know what goes on in government, to cite his support of the bill that would make “certain attacks on those reporting the news” federal crimes.
Menendez said the importance of the media “can’t be overstated.” Menendez implied that abuse of journalists was a one-party issue, attacking President Donald Trump for “dangerous rhetoric,” and citing Trump’s reference to the media as “the enemy of the people,” according to The Hill.
That set Henry Rodgers to tweeting a very pointed question.
“Remember that time you threatened to call the police on me for asking you if you would vote for the Green New Deal last month? I’m a credentialed reporter. So this applies to me as well, right?” asked Rodgers, who works for The Daily Caller.
Remember that time you threatened to call the police on me for asking you if you would vote for the Green New Deal last month? I’m a credentialed reporter… So this applies to me as well, right? https://t.co/0CMUTSJVM6
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) March 12, 2019
Last month, Rodgers and Menendez had a run-in at a Washington Metro station. Rodgers was asking about the Green New Deal.
“Not interested,” Menendez said in comments Rodgers recorded.
“I have nothing to say to The Daily Caller. You’re trash. I won’t answer questions to The Daily Caller, period! You’re trash! Don’t keep harassing me or I’ll call Capitol Police!”
Menendez also said this to (@PaulIngrassia) an intern for The @DailyCaller, asking about the “Green New Deal.” Menendez looked me in the face and said he would call the police if we continued to ask him questions…
Audio here: https://t.co/sQ6i25Fua7
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) February 13, 2019
However on Tuesday, Menendez saw the role of the media in more glowing terms.
“A free, and independent press — a strong Fourth Estate — is essential to the American people and our democracy, ensuring an informed public and holding those in power accountable,” said a release from Menendez, fellow Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.
The bill was originally introduced in February 2018, according to The Hill. Menendez, Blumenthal and Swalwell re-introduced it on Tuesday.
“The Journalist Protection Act makes it a federal crime 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,” the release stated.
“It represents a clear statement that assaults against people engaged in reporting is unacceptable, and helps ensure law enforcement is able to punish those who interfere with newsgathering.”
Media unity has been shattered in recent days as some news outlets have worked together against Fox News.
Some in the media have said that as assaults on journalists rise, some form of action is needed.
“Dozens of physical assaults on journalists doing their jobs were documented by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in 2017,” said Rick Blum, director of News Media for Open Government, Forbes reported in 2018 when the bill was introduced.
“Online harassment of journalists has included death threats and threats of sexual and other physical violence. Taken together, it is clear that not only is the role of the news media in our democracy under attack, but the safety of individual journalists is threatened. It’s time to reverse course. Physical violence and intimidation should never get in the way of covering police, protesters, presidents and other public matters,” he said
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