NY Governor Offers Journalists A Gift No Journalist Would Be Interested In Receiving

from the stop-trying-to-help dept

File under: Things No One Asked For

In case you can't read/see the tweet, it's New York governor Andrew Cuomo threatening to enact a #JournalistsLivesMatter law -- something no journalist has ever suggested they might want.

Let’s make assaulting the press a felony in New York State. Last year saw heinous and deadly attacks against members of the press, journalists must be protected from the threat of physical harm for just for doing their jobs.

While it's refreshing to see a political figure think someone other than law enforcement might need a little extra protection, sentencing enhancements that only apply when certain people are assaulted or killed is never the answer. The state already has a law against assaulting journalists. It's called assault. And in certain cases, it can be felony. (Which, ironically enough, happens anytime anyone assaults a cop in New York.)

There's no reason for journalists to be afforded extra protections just because of their job. If it doesn't make sense for cops, it doesn't make sense for journalists. A profession is not a race, gender, or religious persuasion. Hate crime laws make very little sense themselves, but at least they address the fact people may be targeted for aspects about themselves they have no control over. Journalists and cops don't need to be journalists and cops. A person's race is not a choice and they can be targeted for abuse and physical attacks simply for being the wrong color.

But there's a disturbing aspect to this proposal you won't find in Blue Lives Matter laws: the government gets to pick and choose who's a journalist. That's something we really don't want the government to be doing because it invites direct intervention in First Amendment protected activities.

We've already seen some legislators attempt to do this while pushing for shield laws. While it's a good idea to leave journalists unmolested by government agencies -- especially in light of Attorney General nominee William Barr's remarks during his confirmation hearing -- the laws allow the government to decide who's a journalist and who can be forced to turn over sources without repercussion.

Journalism is an action as much as it is a profession. WikiLeaks personnel should be eligible for shield law protections as should a local blogger who covers small town political issues. Anyone continuously pestering the government with FOIA requests is engaged in journalism, even if all they do is dump the documents in the public domain with a minimum of commentary. Shield laws -- and Cuomo's severe misreading of the room -- make journalism just a bit riskier by giving the government the power to decide who's qualified to bring you the news.

Filed Under: andrew cuomo, journalism, journalists, journalists lives matter, new york


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Jan 2019 @ 6:47pm

    Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's a cookie

    Cuomo is not just taking the position to determine by fiat who is and who are not journalists, he is trying to suck up to a press who might not like him very much, or at least some of them. While the former might be a boon to some journalists, it most certainly is not to others. As to the latter, I don't think it would be hard to determine that the press will not be impressed, whether they are deemed press by Cuomo or not.

    U.S. Constitution

    Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Funny thing. I just don't see any definition of press in there. Now some will argue that the 'press' were people with printing presses at the time the Amendment was written and should exclude all others. Yet we have precedent that radio and TV and goodness forbid Cable reporters are also press. That means that the concept grew as technology grew. So with the advent of the Internet they want to exclude, well lets face it, bloggers, or others who might be pigeonholed into that category.

    So that leaves the reason government wants to control who is or is not 'press' is because there are more people willing to speak their minds and are not 'controlled' by some editor, who in turn is controlled by some publisher, who in turn might be controlled by some corporation. In fact, the government thinks these 'members' of the press are out of control. But isn't that the pure basis of that 1st Amendment? The whole Raison d'etre of the Fourth Estate, which is also not strictly defined.

    The 'press', however defined gets to tell the government what they think of the governments performance, whether the government likes it or not, and the government trying to 'control' who is or is not press certainly seems like some toddlers arguing whether it is bedtime or not. Oh, and the rest of us peons get to do so as well.

    Now as to the revelation of sources, why would the government have any interest at all? Oh, right, they might try and change the conversation from whatever they were called upon to 'whistleblower' or 'traitor' or anything other than the substance of whatever what published that they don't like. Far be it for government to actually listen and take responsibility and corrective action on whatever blunder caused the press person to cause them some heartburn. Wave hands, change the subject, make the reporter the bad person and ignore the wrong doing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 26 Jan 2019 @ 6:07am

      Re: Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's a cooki

      Good points, but let's simplify it so it's easy to see the problem.

      Police: Give us you sources!

      Journalist: Go suck eggs! I don't have to, I'm a journalist.

      Police: Not according to the new law passed to protect journalists. You're now a nobody, and hence not protected by shield laws anymore.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 11:53am

        Re: Re: Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's a c

        There is already precedent regarding what constitutes a journalist for the purpose of enforcing shield laws.

        It would probably come down to some "journalistic function" test that focuses on what the alleged journalist was doing at the time they were attacked.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2019 @ 10:58am

        Re: Re: Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's a c

        Don't they need a warrant or something like a court order before demanding info from a citizen ...or does one actually have to talk to the police? Does one have to be arrested before they have any Miranda rights?

        Theoretically anyways ....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2019 @ 6:42am

      Re: Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's a cooki

      To me, the word "press" is not used as a proper pronoun in the 1st Amendment, but as a common noun. It's purpose is to tell the government that it cannot enact laws restricting speech in written form. Whenever someone tries to say that it applies to "The Press" (i.e., news orgs) I get really annoyed. The purpose of the constitution is to limit govt powers, and the B-O-R to enumerate (some of our) individual rights - i.e, we the people get to exercise them however we wish, as long as we don't infringe on another's rights in doing so.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 27 Jan 2019 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's a c

        The Constitution is a list of what the government must do, the Bill of Rights is a list of what the government must not do.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2019 @ 8:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Press, how we like it, as we like it, oh, and here's

          Okay, that's not exactly pertinent to my point. The BOR is about the rights of the people that are recognized by all - it's not about the rights of an organization or profession.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 7:47pm

    "No Journalist Would Be Interested In Receiving"

    BUT FLACKS WILL.

    It's charming to see in this new millenium such innocents as those who think are any journalists around, especially in the "mainstream media", rather than carefully selected for adherence to the Establishment agenda hacks who will reward Cuomo with favorable coverage just for floating this notion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Snape, 25 Jan 2019 @ 7:54pm

    Equal protection under the laws should also be equal prosecution under the laws.

    If I kill someone while silent, or while screaming, "I hate cops/I hate blacks," I still committed murder and should be prosecuted for murder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      C10H14N2, 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:01am

      Re: Equality under the Law

      ,,

      .... you are quite correct in ethical theory & constitutional basics -- but in practice there's a wide gap between that and the government officials who actually apply/enforce laws.


      Cuomo is a powerful government official who feels free to create his own legal concepts of right and wrong... with selective application to various sub-groups in society.
      He is therefore dangerous.

      Rule-by-Men is radically different from Rule-of-Law

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:13am

        Re: Re: Equality under the Law

        If you dig back through history, you'll find that NYC Mayors, NY Governors and Attorneys General, you'll discover that they have a penchant for enacting "new" laws that are exactly the same as existing laws, but with a catchy name.

        It's safe grandstanding of them doing something "good".

        I can see this one backfiring fast though - it'll become known as "The Paparazzi Protection Act" the first time someone famous is prosecuted under it for punching out a stalking "journalist".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2019 @ 8:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Equality under the Law

          Do rich and influential people have to fear repercussions of their physical assaults upon journalists, or anyone for that matter? I doubt it, they get the symbolic slap upon the wrist occasionally accompanied by the much feared finger wagging. Now the story would be completely different if an average citizen were to do these things because such behavior is unacceptable from real people.

          Republican candidate charged with assault after 'body-slamming' Guardian reporter

          https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/24/greg-gianforte-bodyslams-reporter-ben-jacobs-montana

          Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) threatens reporter: ‘I’ll break you in half’

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/01/29/rep-michael-grimm-r-n-y-repor tedly-threatens-journalist/?noredirect=on

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Jan 2019 @ 10:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Equality under the Law

            To be fair, overzealous reporters (and/or paparazzi) do exist. What is a person to do when they get up in your face with their microphones screaming their questions, impede your progress, or in other ways violating your personal space and/or privacy?

            The 1st Amendment does not require someone to answer ones questions. There are some other laws that require public officials to answer questions, and sadly public officials seem to find more and more ways to avoid that responsibility. Private citizens, whether celebrity or head of a corporation, or someone accused of some crime are not required to respond, no matter how badly the press wants a response.

            In some cases members of the press needs to learn some manners, and in others some form of assault and/or battery charges should be laid.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2019 @ 11:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Equality under the Law

              afaik, the two examples given were not paparazzi. Have you been watching TMZ?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:49am

      Re:

      "equal prosecution under the laws."

      This is elusive when corruption runs rampant.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 9:03am

        Re: corruption runs rampant

        Only 24% of New York citizens actually voted for Cuomo in November 2018 -- ain't democracy and majority rule great.
        No way that corrupt minorities can get control of the government.

        New York state 2018 voter turnout was only 42%.
        Only 49% of 'Registered' voters cast a ballot.
        Cuomo got 57.9% of ballots cast.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Drunk Uncle Sam, 27 Jan 2019 @ 8:57am

          Re: Re: corruption runs rampant

          You assume that corruption will vanish if the people voted, their votes actuality were counted, and elected officials are seemingly not yet corrupt?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 11:54am

      Re:

      The compelling interest of avoiding bias (also an equal-protection issue) can be used to justify what would otherwise be unconstitutional.

      A DUI stop presumes guilt, as does asking for ID before serving someone a drink.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 10:17pm

      Re:

      That’s nice. Racist and idiotic. But nice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Any mouse, 25 Jan 2019 @ 8:17pm

    An important question.

    If a journalist under this law gets into a fight with a police officer under a blue lives law does it cancel out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BroD, 26 Jan 2019 @ 5:26am

    Can we agree it should be illegal to assault any human who, you know, had biological parents?

    Well, ok, except for football.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 5:29am

      Re:

      Football has parents just like everyone else. Just because it happens to be soccer and murder doesn't mean you have to treat it differently.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      C10H14N2, 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:27am

      Re: illegality

      "illegality" is not the issue here -- it's the degree of penalty assigned to the illegal assault ... based upon the societal status of the victim.

      Cuomo asserts that laws should be unequally applied to people.

      Most Americans probably agree with him... depending on the specific law involved. (and there are hundreds of thousands laws out there in America)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:55am

        Re: Re: illegality

        Exactly. Assignation of Protected Status is discrimination against everyone NOT of the Protected group.

        But... the children! ...racism! ...terrorism!...

        "Hate crime" laws and "Sentencing Enhancements" are discriminatory and should be abolished.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:38am

    NY police dogs have more rights than you

    In NY, police dogs have more rights and protections than anyone but a police officer enjoys. The constitution has been remade to their liking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    milan (profile), 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:41am

    love status

    best love status

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 8:50am

    I thought assault already was a felony, is there a misdemeanor assault?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2019 @ 11:27am

    #LivesMatter

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 27 Jan 2019 @ 5:38pm

    How we get more laws

    1. Criminal: <does something bad>

    2. People: There ought to be a law!

    3. Courts: There already is a law. The criminal broke it.

    4. Politician: Obviously the law isn't working; we need a new law!

    5. Voters: Re-elect politician for "solving the problem"

    Now there are two laws.
    Repeat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    btr1701 (profile), 28 Jan 2019 @ 10:55am

    Religion

    > A profession is not a race, gender, or religious
    > persuasion. Hate crime laws make very little sense
    > themselves, but at least they address the fact people may
    > be targeted for aspects about themselves they have no
    > control over.

    Since when does one have no control over one's religion?

    People leave one faith and convert to another all the time. Or just stop believing altogether.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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