Thursday, May 11, 2017

"To serve the governed, not the governors."


     A reporter in West Virginia last Tuesday night was arrested just for doing his job.
     Let that sink in for a moment.
     Dan Heyman was primarily at the West Virginia State Capitol building to cover the protesters in attendance because of HHS Secretary Tom Price's appearance as part of his "listening tour". The 30 year veteran of print and radio journalism knew the routine- Those who aren't bold enough to get as close as possible to the source and raise their voices to make their questions heard walk away empty-handed. That's how the job is done.
     The West Virginia Capitol Police apparently thought they'd rewrite the rules of the journalism game and abruptly took Heyman by both arms and dragged him out of the hallway, a public place. The charge? "Willful disruption of governmental processes." Whether or not they were acting on direction from Price, Kellyanne Conway or the Secret Service, they decided on the spot that raising your voice to government officials was somehow impeding "governmental processes."
     Heyman was trying to ask Price, without success, if domestic violence was a pre-existing condition with the Republican health care bill that barely oozed out of the House and toward the Senate. After several repeated attempts to get even a "No comment", he was hauled off and hit with this ridiculous charge.
     Eight hours and $5000 later, he was finally released and is awaiting an arraignment hearing.
     This, obviously, sets a chilling tone for what will be the rest of the Trump administration but it's certainly not an isolated incident. Throughout the Bush years, we heard of journalists getting roughed up at Bush's rallies, a thug mindset on the part of law enforcement that saw its reprise when Trump was screaming his head off on the campaign trail.
     You remember those darkening days, right? Back then, Trump had barred some of the most prestigious outlets of the mainstream media because they told the truth about him. It's a nakedly hostile attitude toward the 4th Estate that's reaching its Nexus phase with stunning rapidity. Now, apparently, the only media outlets this crypto-fascist government trusts are Fox, Breitbart and even Tass, Russia's official state news outlet.
     We saw Trump's disgusting disregard for the press and for disabled people when at a rally in November 2015, he mocked a disabled reporter to the delight of his trucker hatted fan base. He came right out and said the press was "the enemy of the people" And then he genuinely wonders why the press, which is supposed to be independent and unbiased, has such a strong collective antipathy toward him.
     Donald Trump is a genuine danger to our democracy, our security and of the independent press that's supposed to be the watchdog of that endangered democracy. As Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black had succinctly put it in a landmark 1971 ruling, the press is "to serve the governed, not the governors."
     That also includes presidents and low-level Cabinet officials.

1 Comments:

At May 16, 2017 at 1:00 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

Thank you for commenting on this. I've seen reports, but no one is following up or paying attention.

This is the next step after Spicey orders reporters to 'calm down' as they follow standard protocol of shouting questions.

 

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