With an ever growing animosity towards journalists in today's media climate, Democrats are now advocating for the Journalist Protection Act, which would make intentionally injuring or intimidating a journalist a federal crime.
Causing "great bodily injury" to a journalist on the job could land you up to 6 years in prison under Journalism Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. @ericswalwell https://t.co/vWHAhIpOMV pic.twitter.com/5sIGJXq7G4— Lisa Fernandez (@ljfernandez) February 5, 2018
Since President Donald Trump started his election campaign, he has made one thing explicitly clear: any person that repudiates, doesn't support or goes against what he is saying is "fake news."
Trump's maturity level regarding taking responsibility for his actions is that of a first-grader, refusing to acknowledge that his words have consequences. And with a volatile temper that eerily mirrors that of an authoritarian bigot, Trump's seemingly endless tirade against those who contradict him is not just scary, it's dangerous.
"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...," said California Representative Eric Swalwell. "Such antagonistic communications help encourage others to think, regardless of their views, that violence against people engaged in journalism is more acceptable."
Trump has vehemently fueled the growing hostility toward journalists and major news corporations for months by openly decrying the integrity of not just the journalists themselves, but any remotely liberal news outlet as a whole.
Just before the end of December, Trump retweeted an image of himself crushing a blood-splattered CNN logo beneath his foot. Later he retweeted edited photos of himself body-slamming the network's logo and another image of the "Trump Train" running over it.
And mere weeks ago Trump announced his "fake news" awards, including ABC, The New York Times, CNN, and Newsweek on the list.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Although some like to point at Trump's malice and claim that his lack of presidential attitude is good for a laugh, his words have consequences that in the end are not always so laughable.
Just last month a man was arrested after he called the Atlanta CNN offices with threats of gunning down its employees, giving them a "matter of hours" to escape and citing his source of anger due to CNN being "fake news."
Prior to this, supporters of Trump at a Make America Great Again rally were accused of violently attacking reporters from the OC Weekly and a journalist for The Hill was assaulted at the horrifying Unite the Right Charlottesville rally.
Furthermore, The NewsGuild, a division of the Communications Workers of America, has stepped forward to report that at least 44 reporters were physically attacked in the United States last year and largely contributes Trump's abhorrent rhetoric as the cause.
"Dozens of physical assaults on journalists doing their jobs were documented by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in 2017," said director of News Media for Open Government, Rick Blum. "Online harassment of journalists has included death threats and threats of sexual and other physical violence. Taken together, it is clear that not only is the role of the news media in our democracy under attack, but the safety of individual journalists is threatened."
Additionally, a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans, especially the majority of Republicans, are rapidly losing faith in the mainstream media.
But Democrats believe that the Journalist Protection Act is the solution.
The Protection Act which is co-sponsored by 12 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, would give penalty of up to three years in prison to anyone who intentionally causes "bodily injury" to a journalist, while causing "serious bodily injury" can result in up to six years in prison.
"The threatening atmosphere is palpable," Bernie Lunzer, president of the NewsGuild stated. "The Journalist Protection Act deserves the support of everyone who believes our democracy depends on a free and vibrant press."