This is a copy of the email sent to newsletter subscribers on February 2, 2018. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
Welcome to the first edition of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker newsletter!
You’re receiving this email because you signed up for updates from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a project of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists that documents press freedom incidents in the United States.
The Press Freedom Tracker has documented and analyzed more than 100 press freedom incidents between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017.
34 arrests last year
In 2017, there were 34 arrests of journalists and 44 physical attacks against journalists in the United States. The majority of arrests (88%) and attacks (70%) occurred at protests and demonstrations. In 16 cases, journalists covering protesters were attacked by the protesters themselves. On the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker blog, managing editor Peter Sterne analyzes the data from the Tracker’s first year to highlight disturbing trends facing journalists in the United States, and reporter Camille Fassett looks at how Donald Trump has treated the press since his inauguration.
Eight journalists face criminal charges
Eight journalists in the United States currently face criminal charges. The journalist facing the most serious charges is Aaron Cantú, who arrested while covering the #J20 protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration. The government has accused him of aiding and abetting the small number of protesters who caused property damage, and a grand jury indicted him last year on multiple felony counts of rioting and destruction of property.
When politicians attack
President Trump hasn’t punched any journalists yet — but the same cannot be said for two other politicians! According to the Tracker, two politicians assaulted members of the press in 2017. On May 2, 2017, Alaska state senator David Wilson slapped Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz, while Herz was trying to interview him. Just a few weeks later, Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed Guardian U.S. reporter Ben Jacobs, after Jacobs asked him a question about healthcare policy. Gianforte went on to win the election — he’s now Montana’s sole congressman — and later apologized to Jacobs. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to community service.
We’re only one month into 2018, but we’ve already witnessed a number of press freedom incidents.
- On January 4, Trump sent a cease-and-desist letter to journalist Michael Wolff and his book publisher, demanding that they stop their plans to release “Fire and Fury,” Wolff’s book on the Trump administration.
- On January 28, a man was arrested after he repeatedly called CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and threatened to kill CNN employees. According to the FBI, the man made 22 separate calls — during which he used racial slurs, called CNN “fake news,” and said that he would drive to Georgia and gun down all of CNN’s employees.
- On January 18, two police officers arrived at the home of TV journalist Nora Donaghy and seized her phone, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Donaghy and a colleague, William Erb, had interviewed Marion “Suge” Knight, a controversial former record producer accused of murder, for a six-part TV series that will air later this year on BET. Erb says that a police investigator called him last year and told him that he had broken the law by interviewing Knight. Now both Donaghy and Erb are being subpoenaed to testify about the interview before a grand jury.
Thanks for subscribing to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker newsletter! If you would like to directly support the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker project, you can click here to donate to the Freedom of the Press Foundation. You can also follow the Tracker on Twitter (@USPressTracker) and on Facebook.