WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal this week introduced a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for his attacks on the media.
The Democrat decided to introduce the resolution after the Trump administration blocked CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from a press event in retaliation for her having asked the president a question earlier in the day concerning his relationship with his former attorney Michael Cohen.
The resolution condemns White House attempts to restrict media access and affirms the importance of a free and unfettered press.
“Punishing reporters for simply doing their job is a strongman tactic that cannot be tolerated in a free democracy. President Trump may not like tough questions, but that’s simply too bad,” Blumenthal said. “Retaliating and banning reporters from public briefings on public property violates a public trust and perhaps the law.”
Joining Blumenthal as co-sponsors of the resolution were Corey Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Patty Murray of Washington. All are Democrats.
Blumenthal and Menendez have previously introduced legislation to make it a federal crime to attack or intimidate reporters doing their jobs.
Here’s what the resolution says:
Condemning the decision by President Donald Trump and the White House to ban members of the media from White House events for asking critical questions of the President, and affirming the importance of a free and unfettered press in our democracy.
Whereas the President repeatedly refers to reputable journalists and multiple media organizations as “fake news”;
Whereas the President has characterized these organizations as “a stain on America”;
Whereas the President has characterized these organizations as “the real enemy of the people” while simultaneously characterizing his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a great success”;
Whereas the President has threatened media organizations such as CNN and the Washington Post with antitrust actions while ignoring antitrust concerns with news organizations that provide him favorable coverage;
Whereas on July 25, 2018, the White House singled out CNN Reporter Kaitlan Collins and barred her from attending an event at the White House Rose Garden;
Whereas Ms. Collins asked President Trump questions regarding his former attorney Michael Cohen and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he did not answer, at the White House press pool earlier in the day;
Whereas the White House alleged that Ms. Collins’ questions were inappropriate for the venue;
Whereas the White House’s justification for removing Ms. Collins is clearly a pretext for the real reason she was removed – her questions were uncomfortable for the President, who didn’t like the questions she asked;
Whereas the President has threatened to take away the White House press credentials of journalists whose coverage he does not like;
Whereas the decision to bar a member of the press from the White House for the questions they ask is retaliatory in nature, violates the spirit of the First Amendment, and not indicative of an open and free press;
Whereas a free and unfettered press is the cornerstone of our democracy; Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that the Senate:
Condemns the decision by President Donald Trump and the White House to bar Kaitlan Collins from the White House;
Condemns the escalating attacks by President Trump on reputable journalists and news organizations as “fake news,” “a stain on America,” and “the real enemy of the people”;
Affirms that it is necessary and appropriate for reporters to ask questions of powerful government officials, including the President of the United States, in order to hold these officials accountable to the people of the United States;
And affirms that reporters and journalists must be able to feel free to do their duty without fear of reprisal from the Government.