One week after AAN and The Media Consortium issued a joint statement in support of Public News Service Reporter Dan Heyman, another reporter’s rights were violated in his pursuit of a story. On this occasion, instead of being arrested, CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly – who is also the current Chair of the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Committee – was pushed against a wall and later ejected from the Federal Communications Commission as he attempted to ask questions of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly outside of a formal press conference.
Though the response to Donnelly’s treatment has included an apology from the FCC and a sharp rebuke from several Senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), the charges against Dan Heyman are still pending. And attacks on individual members of the press and press freedom collectively threaten to become the norm in an era when the President has dubbed the press the “enemy of the people.”
That’s why AAN joined 15 other organizations on a statement in support of Donnelly and Heyman, while also cautioning against any complacency on these issues and advocating that our various members continue to speak out against attacks on the press. As our statement notes: “Secrecy by security cannot become the new norm of civil society. We call on public figures to recognize the dangerous path we are on and to reverse course. Democracy depends upon it.”
We’ll have a session focusing on threats to press freedom at our Convention in July. AAN members are reminded they can contact AAN Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or firstname.lastname@example.org if they feel their legal rights are being violated.