August 27, 2019

US – #WeeklyAddress: August 19 – August 25: CBP harasses journalist, suggesting troubling trend

Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of August 19 – August 25:

Customs and Border Protection officer harasses journalist

A British journalist traveling to the United States on assignment says he was stopped and lectured by an unnamed Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer August 22. Magazine reporter James Dyer said he was passing through security at the Los Angeles International Airport when the CBP officer began to barrage him with anti-media rhetoric after learning he was a reporter. Dyer said the officer accused him of being a part of “fake news media” and called such reporters “liars” who are “attacking their democracy.” Dyer said he did not file a complaint or record the name of the officer, as the views he expressed appeared to be individual opinions and not CBP-sanctioned views. This incident comes barely six months after Buzzfeed reporter David Mack was aggressively and unduly questioned by a CBP officer in a New York City airport, leading the officer to later publicly apologize to Mack for impropriety.


Trump’s impromptu “chopper talk” briefs undermine media, critics say

Although White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claims that President Donald Trump’s frequent impromptu press gaggles should make him one of the most accessible presidents in history, some reporters have said these gaggles are orchestrated to inconvenience and discredit the press. President Trump’s preferred press briefings, informally dubbed “chopper talks” due to their proximity to the president’s waiting helicopter, are disorganized to the point of chaos. Among other complaints, reporters said the ambient noise from President Trump’s helicopter makes capturing quality audio impossible and that reporters often have to do “gymnastics” to get close enough to the president to ask questions. Some reporters also said the president takes advantage of the impromptu nature of the gaggles, ignoring questions, follow-up questions and reporters he doesn’t like. While the briefings may be nearly daily, their structure does far more to undermine the press than inform it, critics said.


The United States ranks 48th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index


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