Freedom of the press under attack at Capitol riots


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Image courtesy of Brandeis University.

Sadie Springer, Staff Reporter

The acts of insurrection that took place at the US capitol last Wednesday paused the electoral vote count for several hours while Trump loyalists rioted. During those hectic hours the most crucial and essential job that needed to be carried out was: Journalism. Without the pictures, first hand reports, and interviews, it would be difficult to broadcast the extremity of the situation. 

The madness at the capitol consisted of many direct violations of the US constitution. One being the first amendment. It states, “freedom of speech, or of the press.”

A video taken by William Turton, a Bloomberg reporter, was posted on Twitter. The video shows rioters stealing and smashing reporting equipment like cameras, microphones, and tripods. These white supremacists destroyed the gear of those trying to carry out the first amendment. 

According to The Washington Post, phrases like “Murder to the Media,” and “Get out of here,” were thrown around at the event, mainly targeted at journalists. 

These terrorists claim to be “Patriotic,” and chanted “USA,” in the halls of the capitol building,  but their actions were quite to the contrary. They contradict themselves; professing their devotion to a nation that doesn’t even stand for the ideals they are fighting for. The idea of “free press” and “freedom of speech” is a core, and founding belief of the United States of America. 

“To do our jobs, photojournalists must be on the front lines to record the news. The threats, violence, and aggression toward visual journalists are unconscionable acts that erode our democracy and our country’s First Amendment rights.” said the National Press Photographers Association a statement.

When the career of journalism comes to mind, most do not associate it with danger. Unfortunately, reporting news in the US and in other parts of the world often threatens reporters safety especially in circumstances like riots. For the most part, journalists are not the target of offenders. But on the sixth of January, they were. 

According to ABC news, a photojournalist for The New York Times,  Erin Schaff was harassed by men at the capitol rampage who forcefully interrogated her on who she worked for. She was pushed to the ground by the men when her press pass was taken from her. Her camera was damaged. 

“We knew there might be some hostility toward us, because as you well know, the president is continuously talking about the fake news media and telling people not to trust the media,” said MSNBC news anchor Yasmin Vossoughian.

The hoodlums at the capital are obsessed with a false representation of fake news, an idea that Donald Trump has instilled in their heads countless times in the span of his presidency. Fake news according to Donald Trump could be any source that would threaten his image as president, or ideals that he does not agree with. 

The State Representatives worked late into the night on the house floor last Wednesday in order to finish counting the electoral votes after thousands of rioters were slowly removed from the capitol building. Just as important as it is to follow through with our democracy, it is important to keep the media alive. Freedom of the press is one of the basic tenets of our country, and allows our democracy to thrive.