U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

The Beats Go On | Our July 2019 Newsletter

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Published On
July 1, 2019

A snapshot of categories from January through the end of June 2019

— U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the U.S.

Tweet Streaks
For the first 19 days of June, President Donald Trump didn’t miss a beat when it came to tweeting negatively about the press.

Stephanie Sugars, our staff reporter who has been tracking Trump’s media-related tweets since his candidacy, followed the unprecedented streak and organized his rhetoric for our social media followers as the days ticked on. (If you haven’t yet, follow us @uspresstracker.)

Sugars noted that Trump has tweeted more than 7,000 times to his 61-plus million followers; more than 11 percent of those insulted or criticized journalists and outlets, or condemned and denigrated the news media as a whole.

We keep the live database tracking these tweets—including tweets by year, primary target, and terms like "fake news" and you can explore it here.

Around those same days in June, Trump accused The New York Times of committing “a virtual act of Treason,” and threatened to jail a Time magazine reporter during an interview.

We put it all together, along with attacks on journalists covering Trump rallies, in this blog post:

Trump opens reelection campaign week with escalating rhetoric against the media

Border Stops

While coverage of the migrant caravan has slowed, reports of journalists pulled into secondary screenings for questioning continue to come into the Tracker. Seth Harp, a former veteran who covers armed conflict and military beats, published his personal account in The Intercept, detailing how he spent four hours being aggressively questioned after returning from Mexico, and had his phone and computer searched.

Harp, who talked to the Tracker for our write-up, wrote that he was “completely unprepared for the digital ransacking” of his equipment.

Since our launch in 2017, the Tracker has documented 22 separate cases of journalists stopped at borders, including 8 so far in 2019 in our Border Stop category. And we have at least four more in various stages of the reporting process.

Not The Best of Sports

At the Tracker, we don’t get to talk a lot of sports in the shop, but two press freedom violations have taken center court recently.

After a loss to the Cubs, New York Mets Manager Mickey Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas were involved in an altercation with Newsday beat reporter Tim Healey. Callaway and Vargas were each ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

The New York Knicks were also ordered to pay a fine — to the tune of $50,000 — for pointedly excluding the New York Daily News from a press conference. While not counted in our government-oriented Denial of Access category, we captured this story because of the multiple previous offenses from the Knicks toward the Daily News.

In a statement, Todd Adams, president of the Associated Press Sports Editors said: “The actions of willful discrimination taken by the New York Knicks against reporters from the New York Daily News are an abridgment of the First Amendment and not befitting a team in the National Basketball Association.”

We captured these in our Physical Attack and Other categories, respectively.

Remembering the Capital Gazette Staff

Finally, Friday, June 28, marked the 1-year anniversary of the targeted killing of five Capital Gazette staff members by an armed man who was unhappy with the newspaper’s coverage of him.

Tribune Publishing staff across the country observed a moment of silence at 2:33 p.m.—the moment the gunman entered the news organization’s offices—and the state of Maryland observed its first Freedom of the Press day.

Last year, we documented the chilling, brutal attack in our Physical Attack category, and, for the first time, added the tag killed.

So far in 2019, the Tracker has documented 17 attacks on journalists.

Managing Editor, USPFT

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Tweet Streaks

Trump’s Negative Tweets About the Press (living document)

Trump opens reelection campaign week with escalating rhetoric against the media

Border Stops

Rolling Stone journalist stopped for secondary screening, has electronics searched while asked invasive questions about reporting

Not The Best of Sports

Newsday reporter threatened and ordered out of the locker room following Mets loss in Chicago

New York Knicks fined $50,000 for barring NY Daily News from press event

Remembering the Capital Gazette Staff

Man upset with newspaper coverage shoots and kills multiple journalists in Capital Gazette newsroom