Senate Dem to offer bill making threats, attacks against news media a federal crime

Senate Dem to offer bill making threats, attacks against news media a federal crime
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation that would make threats and attacks against news organizations a federal crime. 

“What we have to address is the continuing threat of physical violence, whether by guns or other means, against the press that may intimidate them in their vital newsgathering operation,” Blumenthal said at a news conference.

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“It is a priority for me to protect newsgathering operations no matter what their form and the act that we’re proposing would in fact establish a federal crime when someone threatens or attacks anyone doing fact-gathering or news operations. That is the purpose of this bill.”

Blumenthal added that any attack against a journalist resulting in bodily injury will be punishable by up to three years behind bars, while any attack causing serious bodily injury will be punishable by up to seven years.

Blumenthal's bill comes after a fake video surfaced over the weekend depicting President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE shooting, stabbing and assaulting media personalities and political opponents. The video, which was first reported by The New York Times, features the logo for Trump’s reelection campaign and was played at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week.

White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamTrump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' Vindman clashes with GOP Obama aides reject White House claim they left 'you will fail' notes behind MORE tweeted Monday morning that Trump had not yet seen the video, “But based upon everything he has heard he strongly condemns the video.” Trump has yet to address the controversy.

Trump was swiftly met with backlash over the video, with many critics suggesting that the president's harsh rhetoric toward the press could endanger journalists and pointing to a supporter who sent explosive devices to media personalities and the president's political opponents last year.

"All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents," White House Correspondents' Association President Jon Karl said in a statement. "We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society."