Anti-Trump Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. – who has vigorously promoted his own “fake news” by accusing Fox News’ Tucker Carlson of working for Vladimir Putin and claiming Trump has “instated more pro-Russia policies that America has seen in decades” – says he’s been inspired by President Trump to propose a law making it a federal crime to “intimidate” or attack journalists.
Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced the Journalist Protection Act in the House on Monday. He claimed the legislation must be passed to protect reporters from the “toxic environment” created by President Trump, who has accused some media outlets of reporting “fake news.”
Swalwell’s bill 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” and “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 Journalist Protection Act is co-sponsored by the following 12 Democrats: Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Grace Napolitano (Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Jose Serrano (N.Y.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Gwen Moore (Wis.).
“President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration have created a toxic atmosphere,” Swalwell said in a statement. “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.”
And how is President Trump “encouraging people to engage in violence” against journalists?
Swalwell said Trump “created a climate of extreme hostility to the press” when he said false reports by “fake news media” are “a stain on America.” The president made the comment after a series of reporting errors made by CNN, ABC News and Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel. On Dec. 10, 2017, Trump tweeted: “Very little discussion of all the purposely false and defamatory stories put out this week by the Fake News Media. They are out of control – correct reporting means nothing to them. Major lies written, then forced to be withdrawn after they are exposed … a stain on America!”
Swalwell also cited Trump’s August statement faulting mainstream media for deepening divisions in the country and “trying to take away our history and our heritage.” The congressman ripped Trump for calling “fake news” purveyors an “enemy of the American people” in February.
The Democrat chastised the president for tweeting a GIF video of himself body-slamming an individual who had the CNN logo displayed over his face. Many people joked about the humorous video, but CNN took offense, saying, “It’s a sad day when the president of the Unites States encourages violence against reporters.”
Trump later said CNN took the tweet “too seriously.”
“Such antagonistic communications help encourage others to think, regardless of their views, that violence against people engaged in journalism is more acceptable,” the statement from Swalwell said.
The congressman said: “Not all attacks on journalists this year have been committed by Trump supporters, but the fact remains that rhetoric emanating from the world’s most powerful office is stoking an environment in which these attacks proliferate. We must send a loud, clear message that such violence won’t be tolerated.”
The Democrats co-sponsoring the Journalist Protection Act have a history of attacking the president.
Rep. Cohen introduced five articles of impeachment against Trump in November, claiming the president’s “attacks on ‘so-called judges’ and ‘fake news’ have undermined public confidence in the judiciary and the press.”
Rep. Rush recently called President Trump “evil,” saying, “Trump, to me, is an evil man. I’ve never seen a man who has done so much harm to this nation.”
And Reps. Cohen, Napolitano, Serrano, Soto and Waters all protested Trump’s election by boycotting his inauguration.