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Shortening Days | Our September 2019 Newsletter

September 3, 2019

Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the United States.

Overview
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented 4 new cases and 5 updates that occurred in the month of August. Below are a few highlights—follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily news.

White House in Focus

On Aug. 5, Brian Karem, the White House correspondent for Playboy, was told via email from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham that his press pass would be suspended for 30 days. The suspension followed a heated exchange between Karem and radio host Sebastian Gorka in the Rose Garden during President Donald Trump’s July social media summit.

Prominent First Amendment attorney Ted Boutros filed a federal lawsuit against President Trump and Grisham on behalf of Karem on Aug. 20. Boutros was part of the legal team that also represented CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, when the White House pulled his press pass in 2018.

We’re tracking this case in our Denial of Access category.

So far in 2019, at least 26 journalists or news organizations have been denied access to government events.

White House correspondents stayed in press tracker news this month. On Aug. 3, Charlie Kratovil, founder and editor of the news site New Brunswick Today, was forcibly removed from an education summit in New Jersey by the private bodyguard of White House correspondent and CNN commentator April Ryan. The bodyguard has been charged with harassment, assault and theft.

We’re tracking this case in our Physical Attack category.

So far in 2019, at least 27 journalists have been assaulted in the course of their work.

Stopped at the Border, Questioned About Politics

Upon entering the U.S. through customs at California’s LAX airport, British journalist James Dyer showed his journalistic visa. What he got in return was strong anti-press rhetoric from a Customs and Border Protection agent who asked if he’d ever worked for one of the news outlets “spreading lies to the American people.”

CBP Los Angeles advised Dyer via Twitter to file a formal complaint.

In February, the Tracker documented a similar incident with Australian BuzzFeed reporter David Mack. Mack tweeted that while at passport control at JFK airport, a CBP agent “grilled” him for 10 minutes about the outlet’s reporting on Rober Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia.

We’re following this through our Border Stops category.

So far in 2019, nine journalists have been stopped at the border for additional questioning or screening.

All the Updates

In addition to reporting press freedom violations as they happen, we continuously update our database as incidents evolve.

August was no exception, with three separate updates publishing this month around the March raid of San Francisco-based journalist Bryan Carmody.

In its illegal search for his confidential source, the San Francisco police department had issued a total of five warrants—three for Carmody’s cell phone records and one each for the search of his home and office. Five separate superior court judges have now quashed all five warrants, effectively rendering unusable any information gathered.

We tracked these illegal searches and seizures across multiple categories: Arrest/Criminal Charge; Equipment Search or Seizure and Subpoena/Legal Order.

So far in 2019, at least eight journalists have been arrested in the course of their work; four have had equipment searched or seized by law enforcement; and 11 subpoena or legal orders have been issued against journalists or news organizations.

A few other recently updated cases of note:

  • Cesar Sayoc, the man charged with sending more than a dozen pipe bombs to media and prominent Democrats in October 2018, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Aug. 5.
  • On Aug. 6, an appeals court reopened a 2017 defamation lawsuit brought by former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin against The New York Times, arguing that the suit was tossed out too quickly. The case has been given authorization to enter discovery, which could require The Times to turn over work product and emails. An editor for the news organization had already been ordered to testify in the case’s original discovery period.

Support these updates and all of our work when you support the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. A donation to Freedom of the Press Foundation makes this possible.

Best,

Kirstin

Managing Editor, USPFT