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Protecting the First Amendment

Posted: October 25, 2017 at 2:09 pm by , in Breaking News, Featured, Morning Magazine

“I think that there has been a steady increase fueled by several things, but most markedly with President Trump, who has made it his standard battle cry, from his efforts to get elected, to now being in office.” 

 

The protection of the first amendment and the future of journalism will be under discussion at a forum at the Alliance Center in Denver on Thursday November 2nd. The Boulder based Public News Service was at the front lines of the fight for freedom of the press earlier this year, when one of its reporters, Dan Heyman, was arrested for attempting to ask former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question.

On May 9th, 2017, Heyman was arrested and charged with “willful disruption of governmental processes” for trying to ask Price a question while at the West Virginia State Capitol. Lark Corbeil, founder and CEO of PNS, says Heyman’s arrest is part of a pattern of cracking down on journalism under the Trump administration.

“I think that there has been a steady increase fueled by several things, but most markedly with President Trump, who has made it his standard battle cry, from his efforts to get elected, to now being in office.”

There has always been a healthy tension between government and journalists says Corbeil, but since the election of Trump, things have deteriorated rapidly.

“But these arrests, this level, this escalation is new. I would say that there were attacks under the Obama administration in the sense of less protections for whistle blowers going after journalists for their sources. So it has been growing but it has gone to a whole new level and I would say that there’s this pernicious confluence with the attacks and the lack of civic understanding so that people don’t really know what their rights are, and you couple the decimation of the local funding model and you’ve got this triad of very troubling or pernicious inputs.”

Corbeil compares the current situation to the influence that big tobacco once had on society.

“All you have to do is sow doubt, make people not trust any sources or not know who to trust and then you’ve got them in an insecure state where it’s hard for them to act, or stop, whatever you want to do.”

 

 

Corbeil and John Nichols of the Nation magazine will co-moderate a discussion on the first amendment at the Alliance Center in Denver on Thursday November 2nd. PNS reporter Dan Heyman will be one of the panelists, along with Aaron Cantú, a Santa Fe Reporter, arrested in January while covering the inauguration protests in DC;  Mark Bailen, legal counsel, Society of Professional Journalists; Steve Zansberg, First Amendment Litigator; Pat Carome, Partner, WilmerHale, Free Press attorney.

Find out more here.