U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Tennessee state representative introduces resolution to reprimand AP for reporting

Incident Details

January 20, 2022

A Tennessee state representative filed a joint resolution on Jan. 20, 2022, to reprimand The Associated Press following its investigation of racism in the United States military.

The resolution was introduced by Rep. Bud Hulsey, a Republican, in response to AP’s May 2021 investigation, “Deep-rooted racism, discrimination permeate US military.” The resolution states AP journalists engaged “in the lowest form of yellow journalism and should be held accountable by the American public and their elected officials” with a reprimand from the General Assembly.

Tennessee outlet WJHL said there are no other instances of state officials reprimanding news organizations. Hulsey’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

AP spokesperson Lauren Easton told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that “The Associated Press stands by its reporting,” and referred the Tracker to an AP article on Tennessee’s Black lawmakers efforts to “raise awareness about structural racism.”

Kat Stafford, the lead reporter on the AP investigation, tweeted on Jan. 21 that the resolution was a “career first” and that the AP stands behind the reporting.

Stafford also wrote that she and her colleagues spent nearly a year on the investigation and interviewed dozens of service members and experts. “We poured over copious documents & FOIAs. We did our homework.”

In response to Stafford’s tweets, AP Executive Editor Julie Pace echoed support for the investigation, tweeting “Indeed - we stand by our reporting, and our reporters.”

Note: This article was amended to include comment from the Associated Press.

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