Dem lawmaker introduces bill to protect journalists from violence

Dem lawmaker introduces bill to protect journalists from violence
© Greg Nash

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellThe Hill's 12:30 Report — NYT says Cohen taped Trump on payments | Trump floats tariffs on all Chinese imports | Russia open to new summit House Dem on inviting Putin to US: ‘He shouldn’t be in our country’ Dem on Putin coming to US: 'You don't invite the burglar to dinner' MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday introduced legislation that would make it a federal crime to physically attack or intimidate journalists.

The Journalist Protection Act comes in response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE’s rhetoric toward the media, which he has derided as “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people,” Swalwell’s office said.

“President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration have created a toxic atmosphere. It’s not just about labeling reports of his constant falsehoods as #FakeNews — it’s his casting of media personalities and outlets as anti-American targets, and encouraging people to engage in violence,” Swalwell said in a statement. 

The bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist or act in a manner to intimidate a journalist from doing their job.

“Not all attacks on journalists this year have been committed by Trump supporters, but the fact remains that rhetoric emanating from the world’s most powerful office is stoking an environment in which these attacks proliferate,” Swalwell said.

The bill has several Democratic co-sponsors and is supported by multiple media organizations.

In addition to labeling the media the "enemy of the American people," Trump has in the last year said reporters are "truly bad people" and shared an image that depicted the CNN logo in a blood spatter on the bottom of his shoe.

Lawmakers, such as Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainObama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin MORE (R-Ariz.), have criticized Trump's rhetoric, saying it empowers dictators abroad to crack down on journalists.

The International Federation of Journalists's reported at the end of 2017 that "impunity for the killings, harassment, attacks and threats against independent journalism was running at epidemic levels.”