News

December 10, 2018 - Updated on January 30, 2019

US — #WeeklyAddress: December 3 – December 9: CNN’s New York offices evacuate after receiving bomb threat

Screenshot: CNN
Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of December 3 - December 9:

CNN’s New York offices evacuate after receiving bomb threat

Police evacuated CNN’s New York office employees after they received a phoned-in bomb threat on the evening of December 6. The caller who made the threat shortly before 10 p.m. alleged there were five devices in the building. A bomb squad was on standby as New York Police Department officers investigated the network’s offices before giving the all clear. In October, CNN’s New York and Atlanta offices had collectively received three suspicious explosive devices allegedly sent by a private individual who was also charged with sending more than a dozen explosive devices to Democratic politicians and donors.

 

 

Man arrested for allegedly threatening Detroit journalists

Federal authorities arrested and charged a man on December 6 for allegedly sending threatening, anti-Semitic, and sexually violent messages to Detroit journalists and an elected official. The 69-year-old, who sent threatening messages to at least 12 people including staff at The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, was charged with stalking and making threatening communications, according to an affidavit filed in US District Court. Between October 2017 and October 2018, the man sent one writer at least 65 voicemails and nearly all of them “contained sexually violent threats and/or sexually vulgar language” directed toward him, his wife, or his mother. Another writer had received calls, emails, and messages from the man over several years, including nearly 30 voicemails between October 2017 and October 2018, while a former staffer received around 10 emails daily over a decade and voicemails more recently, which didn’t cease when the writer changed jobs this year. The man is being held without bond and a detention hearing will take place on December 10.

 

 

Arkansas high school suspends student-run newspaper for controversial report

The Har-ber Herald, a student-run newspaper at a high school in Arkansas, was suspended after publishing an investigative article on December 5 on the alleged improper transfer of five football players to another school district. The students who wrote the article had conducted a month-long investigation into the transfer and even used public records to corroborate their reports. Despite the article’s accuracy, which the school district did not dispute, school district officials demanded that the story be taken down from the school’s website and have since aimed to release new guidelines for publication despite state law protecting the students’ rights to a free press. In a public statement, district superintendent Jim Rollins criticized the article for being “intentionally negative, demeaning, hurtful and potentially harmful to students.” The district has also called the newspaper’s adviser, Karla Sprague, “insubordinate” and threatened to fire her. A coalition of 27 national journalism organizations issued a letter of concern to Rollins, urging the district to “allow your students to use the newspaper as it is meant to be used: as a vehicle for young people to engage on issues of civic, social and political concern.”

 

 

Security guard blocks reporters from following Mayor de Blasio

A member of Bill de Blasio’s security team blocked reporters from following the mayor out of New York City Hall on December 3. According to NY Daily News reporter Jillian Jorgensen, she and two other reporters were blocked at the door. “Not sure what on earth the justification for that would be,” Jorgensen tweeted, “as it is not the NYPD’s job to save the mayor from press coverage.” New York 1 reporter Grace Rauh also posted a video to Twitter as evidence of the incident. In August, de Blasio faced criticisms for having two NYPD officers remove Kevin Sheehan, a credentialed reporter for the NY Post, from Manhattan’s annual Dominican Day parade for attempting to ask the mayor a question. According to the Post, Sheehan was wearing a police-issued press pass around his neck when the officers approached him and grabbed his shoulder to lead him away from the mayor.

 

 

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

 

 

For the latest updates, follow RSF on twitter @RSF_en.