U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Congressman blocks journalist from photographing protesters

Incident Details

Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) speaks with a journalist at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, on March 4, 2016.

— Reuters/Joshua Roberts
January 10, 2017

European Pressphoto Agency photographer Jim Lo Scalzo told the Dallas News that Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman representing Texas, physically blocked him from photographing protesters during the nomination hearings for Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Jan. 10, 2017.

Lo Scalzo said that Gohmert deliberately tried to prevent him from reporting on the protesters' disruption of the hearing. 

"When I asked him, 'Are you seriously blocking me from making these pictures of these protesters?' he said, 'Yes,' " Lo Scalzo told the Dallas News." He said, 'The story is not there,' and then he pointed to Sessions and said, 'The story is over there.' "

In an interview with the Dallas News, Gohmert defended his actions and claimed that Lo Scalzo had blocked his view of the hearing.

"There were plenty of cameras to capture what was going on, so there was no censorship, but the rule-breaking, distracting, view-blocking cameraman was blocking my view requiring me to stand," Gohmert said. "He wasn't determined to get the truth out, he was selfishly disrupting the view he was not allowed to, to try and prevent one of the many other photographers who were not violating rules from having a better picture than him."

But video of the hearing shows Gohmert getting up from his seat to block Lo Scalzo from taking photos of the protesters.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].