Media giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents

A coalition of media giants is siding with Stephen Bannon in his push for the release of documents pertaining to his contempt of Congress charges related to the House investigation in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

The media organizations — including The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and NBC News — filed a legal brief that opposes prosecutors’ proposal to shield documents related to Bannon’s contempt case.

Prosecutors are urging the Justice Department to issue a protective order on the documents, which include more than 1,000 pages of witness testimony, grand jury proceedings and other documents compiled during the discovery process in Bannon’s case, according to the Post.

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They are arguing that releasing the documents would drum up publicity that could influence the jury selection process and intimidate witnesses before the trial even starts, according to the Post. In a previous brief, prosecutors reportedly wrote that Bannon’s past public statements “make clear that defense’s real purpose [is] to abuse criminal discovery to try this case in the media rather than in court.”

The former Trump White House adviser, however, is pushing for the materials to be released.

Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to appear at a scheduled deposition in October before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He pleaded not guilty to both counts.

If the prosecutors ultimately impose the protective order, journalists would be barred from viewing the documents, the Post noted.

In their brief, attorneys representing the media companies said the proposed protective order was overbroad and would restrict what information the public is able to access in relation to the case, the Post reported.

The media giants are also arguing that the order would infringe on the First Amendment by forbidding Bannon and his lawyer from talking with the press about the proceedings.

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They are asserting a public right of access to the records.

The media organizations’ brief on behalf of the former White House adviser represents an alliance between two unlikely partners, considering Bannon often lambastes the "mainstream media."

Bannon in January 2017, after then-President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE was inaugurated, said, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.” He also called the press the “opposition party.”

Judge Carl Nichols, who was appointed by Trump in June 2019, is presiding over the case, according to the Post.

ABC News, BuzzFeed News, CBS News, Dow Jones & Co., which is the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Gannett Co., the Los Angeles Times, NPR, ProPublica, E.W. Scripps Co., Gray Media Group and Tegna Inc. are also included in the brief, according to the Post.

The brief was first reported by the Daily Mail.