News

September 4, 2018

US - #WeeklyAddress: August 27 - September 2: FBI arrests man who issued death threats to Boston Globe employees

Mark RALSTON / AFP
Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of August 27 - September 2:

FBI arrests man who issued death threats to Boston Globe employees

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested California resident Robert D. Chain on August 30 for making threatening phone calls to The Boston Globe. Chain had begun making these calls in response to the news organization’s August 16 editorial campaign. He threatened to shoot employees in the head in one call while referring to the newspaper as “the enemy of the people” in another three days later. Chain will face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, and is scheduled to appear in federal court on Thursday. “Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people, takes it over the line and will not be tolerated,” remarked the head of the FBI’s Boston office. In light of the most recent threats to New York Times and Associated Press journalists issued just last week, Chain’s arrest provides a well-needed sense of relief.

 

 

Recently released body-cam footage shows journalist handcuffed by two Denver cops for photographing badges

Police body camera footage released on August 28 shows two police officers arresting Susan Greene, a journalist and editor at The Colorado Independent, for attempting to photograph their badges as they responded to a call. The incident originally occurred on July 5 when Greene noticed the officers surrounding a nearly naked handcuffed African- American man on a Denver sidewalk. An investigative reporter who has tracked criminal justice and police brutality for years, Greene approached the scene to take photographs. The officers quickly blocked her, stating she was violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The reporter cited her First Amendment right to record police interactions and refused to put her iPhone camera away. After repeated warnings, the officers handcuffed her and exclaimed, “Stand up straight. Act like a lady.” They proceeded to hold Greene in the car for 12 minutes before releasing her. District Attorney Beth McCann has said that her office will not press charges against the police.

 

 

Trump calls Carl Bernstein a “degenerate fool” amidst uncertainty of CNN report’s validity On Wednesday, President Trump described Carl Bernstein, one of the esteemed investigative journalists responsible for uncovering the Watergate scandal, as a “sloppy” and “degenerate fool” who makes up “story after story.” 

This appears to be prompted by a CNN article Bernstein co-wrote alleging the president knew about a secret June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which a group of Russians were expected to offer unfavorable information on Hillary Clinton. The article’s previously unnamed source, now revealed to be Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, has since stated that Cohen did not have any knowledge that Trump was aware of the meeting ahead of time. Bernstein promptly replied to Trump’s comments, insisting he stands behind his reporting, which included multiple other sources.

 

 

President Trump accuses NBC of altering 2017 Russia interview President Trump alleged in a Thursday tweet that NBC and its chief anchor, Lester Holt, were responsible for "fudging" his remarks from a 2017 interview in which President Trump said he fired former FBI Director James Comey due to his performance, including his handling of the Russia investigation. 

The president has not specified how NBC altered the interview or offered evidence to support his claim.  

 

 

President Trump claims Google search is “RIGGED” in favor of “Fake News Media”

President Donald Trump accused Google of rigging its search results in favor of the “Fake News Media,” and at the expense of “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media,” in an early morning tweet on August 28. 

In a following tweet, President Trump wrote that “96% of results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media” and that Google, among other sources, are “suppressing [the] voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.” 

Google responded to President Trump’s accusations, detailing how the Search feature algorithm identifies and orders relevant results and “is not used to set a political agenda.” Regardless, the administration is “taking a look” at whether the government should regulate Google’s search engine. In July, President Trump called out social media companies for allegedly “discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices.”


Trump volunteer physically blocks photographer from photographing protester at Indiana rally

In Evansville, Indiana, a Trump volunteer physically blocked Reuters photojournalist Kevin Lamarque from photographing a protester at a Trump rally on August 30. A photo of the incident, taken by Associated Press journalist Evan Vucci, went viral overnight. 

The photographers were reporting on Trump’s rally in support of Mike Braun, a Republican Senatorial candidate in Indiana. During his speech, President Trump made comments about “fake news,” claiming that it comprised “85% of the media.” The president, Lamarque said, “really woke up the crowd” by “ramping it up a little bit by calling out the New York Times.” In a Friday statement, White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox said the Trump campaign has apologized for the volunteer’s conduct and taken him off the road.

 

 

Bloomberg News reassigns reporter to new beat after bank CEO complained about behavior

Bloomberg News reassigned a reporter who covered Wells Fargo bank after its CEO called Bloomberg’s editor in chief to complain about its coverage, according to an August 27 CNN report. In March 2018, reporter Shahien Nasiripour published a story detailing Wells Fargo’s ties to the National Rifle Association. In response to Nasiripour’s article, CEO Timothy Sloan issued a memo to bank employees. After Nasiripour’s request to view the memo was denied, he engaged in a heated phone conversation with a Wells Fargo spokesperson. Later that month, Bloomberg News Editor in Chief John Micklethwait informed Nasiripour that Sloan had complained about his interactions with Wells Fargo employees and would now be reassigned to cover the Trump Organization. Three senior banking reporters have since left the publication. In a statement, Bloomberg said it “publishes 5,000 stories a day and, like every news organization, we get push back from the companies we cover. We make decisions about how we cover those companies based purely on what is best for our readers.”

 

The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.

 

 

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