Defending Rights & Dissent joined Open the Government, together with a non-partisan coalition of transparency, government accountability, civil liberties and press freedom organizations, on a letter condemning the White House for punishing journalists who ask tough questions, and demanding it welcomes all credentialed reporters to events where the press are admitted. The letter is in response to the White House barring CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from reporting on an event on July 25, 2018 at the Rose Garden, and calls on the White House to refrain from targeting journalists for doing their jobs.
“This administration’s unprecedented attacks on the media take aim at the heart of our democracy,” said Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director of Open the Government. “The White House’s contempt for a free press contributes to a rise in threats and attacks against journalist in the U.S. and abroad. An informed public is contingent on a free press, and cracking down on journalists has a dramatic impact on the public’s right to know.”
Earlier this year, OTG released a report, documenting the ongoing disparagement of the media as part of a troubling trend of secrecy and abuse under this administration. The report found that journalists are facing new obstacles to their work, including instances where high-level federal officials directly attack the media at public events, calling their work misleading and parroting the president’s rhetoric about disseminating fake news. The hostile posture towards the media, in addition to the administration’s pledge to more aggressively subpoena journalists as part of efforts to crack down on leaks, is having a chilling effect on officials who might otherwise speak openly to journalists.
The White House must refrain from attacking journalists and allow all credentialed reporters to events where the press is admitted, including reporters who seek answers to tough questions the administration might rather avoid.
Defending Rights & Dissent is guided by the Bill of Rights, which was adopted to limit the power of the state over individuals and to preserve basic human and individual rights for every person under U.S. jurisdiction or control, even in times of war or other national crises, and regardless of who holds elected power.
In 2015, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Defending Dissent Foundation agreed to merge to place both organizations and their respective supporters in an even stronger position to help restore constitutional rights eroded by executive agencies.