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house Bill H.R. 4935

Should Assaulting a Journalist be a Federal Crime?

Argument in favor

Anti-journalist rhetoric is out of control and by making it a federal crime to assault a journalist this bill would send a clear message that such violence won’t be tolerated.

Judith's Opinion
···
02/18/2018
JOURNALISTS THAT ARE ACTUAL JOURNALISTS NOT PROPAGANDISTS MUST BE PROTECTED WITH MUCH MORE SEVERE PENALTIES TO THE ATTACKER THAN THE REGULAR POPULATION. FACT, ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL HAVE TO LIVE ON SNAP !!!! ACTIVE MILITARY !!!! ACTIVE MILITARY HAVE TO HAVE FOOD STAMPS TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES !!!!!! WHY CONGRESS, DO YOU PAY ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL SO LITTLE THAT THEY HAVE TO LIVE ON FOOD STAMPS !!!!!!!! YOU VILE IMORAL PEOPLE !! YOU DISGUST ME !!! FIX THIS !! NOW !!!! FORCE A BILL THROUGH CONGRESS THAT REQUIRES ALL BILLS BE STAND ALONE BILLS !!!
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BeStrong's Opinion
···
02/18/2018
Remember when now Rep Gianforte, body slammed reporter Jacobs to the floor and next day the great state of MT elected him to office. He was charged with assault. BUT he gave himself permission to attack a reporter for asking a question. Some people commended him, some people in here have recommend violence. Maybe it’s not the laws, maybe it’s us 🙁 A free press is critical to our democracy.
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Hillary's Opinion
···
02/18/2018
Assaulting anyone is a crime. Assaulting journalists is both a crime against humanity AND a crime against democracy. A free press is absolutely essential to real democracy. Trump is destroying democracy when he tries to destroy the credibility of the free press.
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Argument opposed

Assault is already a crime that states enforce, and there’s no apparent wave of violence against journalists. This bill is purely an attempt to score political points.

B.R.'s Opinion
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02/18/2018
The media is no more special than anyone else. They are already protected. And, by the way, they brought on their own problems. President Trump just points out their bias and lies.
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anatidae's Opinion
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02/18/2018
Being a journalist isn’t some elite class that gets special laws. Journalists are protected under current law like every other citizen.
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Mary's Opinion
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02/18/2018
Assault is assault. If it’s a federal crime to assault a journalist then it’s going to be splitting hairs to decide who is a journalist. Are the paparazzi considered journalist? Some of those guys deserve a punch in the head for the things they do.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedFebruary 5th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 4935?

This bill — the Journalist Protection Act — would make assault against journalists a federal crime if the assault is committed while the journalist is news-gathering or done to intimidate or impede news-gathering by the journalist. Causing bodily injury to a journalist would be punishable by up to three years imprisonment and fines, while serious bodily injury would be punished by up to six years imprisonment and fines.

Impact

Journalists who are assaulted and their attackers; and the judicial system.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4935

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced this bill to make a federal crime of certain attacks on journalists reporting the news:

“President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration have created a toxic atmosphere. It’s not just about labelling 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.
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.”

In a column for The Daily Signal, Amy Swearer — a visiting legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation — wrote in opposition to this bill:

“While the president has occasionally spoken out harshly against the media, he has not deviated from previous administrations in his legal treatment of them. The press has not been restricted in any substantive way, and the First Amendment remains a shining example of liberty even as countries like France move to suppress anything the government deems “fake news.”
The federal criminal code is already dangerously broad and complex, and there is no need to add a toothless statute that duplicates vigorously enforced state laws and amounts to little more than political pandering. This is particularly so when, like the Journalist Protection Act, the statute is a solution in need of a problem.”

This legislation has the support of 12 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Democrats.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: microgen / iStock)

AKA

Journalist Protection Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a penalty for assault against journalists, and for other purposes.

    JOURNALISTS THAT ARE ACTUAL JOURNALISTS NOT PROPAGANDISTS MUST BE PROTECTED WITH MUCH MORE SEVERE PENALTIES TO THE ATTACKER THAN THE REGULAR POPULATION. FACT, ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL HAVE TO LIVE ON SNAP !!!! ACTIVE MILITARY !!!! ACTIVE MILITARY HAVE TO HAVE FOOD STAMPS TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES !!!!!! WHY CONGRESS, DO YOU PAY ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL SO LITTLE THAT THEY HAVE TO LIVE ON FOOD STAMPS !!!!!!!! YOU VILE IMORAL PEOPLE !! YOU DISGUST ME !!! FIX THIS !! NOW !!!! FORCE A BILL THROUGH CONGRESS THAT REQUIRES ALL BILLS BE STAND ALONE BILLS !!!
    Like (143)
    Follow
    Share
    The media is no more special than anyone else. They are already protected. And, by the way, they brought on their own problems. President Trump just points out their bias and lies.
    Like (135)
    Follow
    Share
    Being a journalist isn’t some elite class that gets special laws. Journalists are protected under current law like every other citizen.
    Like (103)
    Follow
    Share
    Remember when now Rep Gianforte, body slammed reporter Jacobs to the floor and next day the great state of MT elected him to office. He was charged with assault. BUT he gave himself permission to attack a reporter for asking a question. Some people commended him, some people in here have recommend violence. Maybe it’s not the laws, maybe it’s us 🙁 A free press is critical to our democracy.
    Like (79)
    Follow
    Share
    Assault is assault. If it’s a federal crime to assault a journalist then it’s going to be splitting hairs to decide who is a journalist. Are the paparazzi considered journalist? Some of those guys deserve a punch in the head for the things they do.
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    Assaulting anyone is a crime. Assaulting journalists is both a crime against humanity AND a crime against democracy. A free press is absolutely essential to real democracy. Trump is destroying democracy when he tries to destroy the credibility of the free press.
    Like (58)
    Follow
    Share
    Assault is already a crime that states enforce, and there’s no apparent wave of violence against journalists. This bill is purely an attempt to score political points.
    Like (41)
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    Journalism should be protected on many levels. I would include protections for whistleblowers as well.
    Like (35)
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    Yes it should be.Donald Trump and his campaign by their actions made politicians think journalists are fair game and will win them support with their base. Journalists deserve protection while doing their jobs in hostile environments.
    Like (29)
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    Should journalist that lie and deceive the public face federal charges would be a better question
    Like (28)
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    Assault is already a crime in every state. This would be a gross federal overreach.
    Like (26)
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    No one should have to worry about being physically assaulted for just doing their job
    Like (25)
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    Freedom of the press is fundamental right in first amendment to the constitution. This must be protected if we are going to have a democracy. Trump’s fake news statements demonstrates that he does not understand the constitution
    Like (21)
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    A free press is vital for a free people. Certain demagogues, i.e. 45, like to demonize the press in hopes of silencing them by means of physical threats. While it is true that assault laws already exist and everyone should be covered, the press fulfills a watchdog duty that is so important the Bill of Rights includes it. A free press is the sunshine that stops the rot of lies and misdirection. Keep it strong. Keep it free.
    Like (20)
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    Journalists don’t deserve special treatment. Assault is already a crime.
    Like (19)
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    Cut the special interest crap. Assault is assault and is illegal against anyone. So we need to make a special law that makes it more illegal. This is anti-American and unconstitutional BS.
    Like (17)
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    Not a “special class” of people— they need to be held to the same standards as all others.
    Like (16)
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    Some of the comments about hurting journalists being justified makes the case that this should be passed.
    Like (16)
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    Journalist are our eyes and ears into matters that the current system has us too busy to pay attention to or search out on our own. These people are national treasures, and should be protected.
    Like (15)
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    There are already laws against assault.
    Like (15)
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