ONA is deeply disturbed by what appears to be a new and worrying trend in the United States: manhandling, assaulting and arresting journalists who are simply asking questions of public officials in order to better inform the American people.
Last night’s assault of the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, the recent manhandling of CQ’s John Donnelly, and the arrest of Dan Heyman, a West Virginia public news service reporter, are all attempts not just to muzzle reporters, but to shield the public from the truth. These reporters were not misbehaving or invading anyone’s privacy. They were asking questions of people who have put themselves forward to do the people’s business. Scrutiny and accountability comes with being a public official, and that includes fielding questions from the news media.
Let there be no doubt: A free and unfettered press is a critical component to a functioning democracy. These attacks must stop, and our elected leaders must stand up for press freedom and speak out against these un-American acts.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”