Three Democratic lawmakers reintroduced a Journalist Protection Act that intends to designate “certain attacks on those reporting the news” as a federal crime.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
It was originally introduced by Swalwell in February 2018 when the House was under Republican control. Democrats officially took back the House this January.
“The Journalist Protection Act makes it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the course of reporting or in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering for a media organization,” reads the Tuesday press release. “It represents a clear statement that assaults against people engaged in reporting is unacceptable, and helps ensure law enforcement is able to punish those who interfere with newsgathering.”
The lawmakers said they were introducing the bill as a response to President Trump’s “climate of extreme hostility” toward the media.
“Both before and since taking office, President Trump has blatantly stoked a climate of extreme hostility toward the press,” the release said. "He has called the press ‘the enemy of the American people,’ and described mainstream media outlets as ‘a stain on America.’
“Such antagonistic rhetoric encourages others to think, regardless of their views, that violence against journalists is more acceptable.”
Trump has often referred to the media as “the enemy of the people” while regularly evoking the phase “fake news.”
"I really wish I didn’t have to introduce this, but we have seen rhetoric from the president declaring the media as the ‘enemy of the state,’ " Swalwell said last year when he first introduced the bill.
Original co-sponsors of the Journalist Protection Act in the House were Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).