Sessions needs to embrace freedom of the press

January 10, 2017 07:00

By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director

During the confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions, President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, the Alabama senator was vague and non-committal when asked about whether he would subpoena or prosecute journalists for doing their jobs.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar asked Sessions if he would follow current Justice Department regulations that make such actions against journalists difficult and whether he would pledge not to “put reporters in jail for doing their job.”

Sessions response was not reassuring.

“Senator Klobuchar, I am not sure.  I have not studied that, those regulations.”  Sessions continued, “For the most part, there is a broadly recognized and proper deference to the news media.  But you could have a situation in which the media’s not the unbiased media we see today…”

If he’s confirmed, RTDNA strongly urges Senator Sessions to quickly become well-versed on the issues related to the federal shield law and the regulations which are now in place to prevent judicial overreach when it comes to reporters and their sources.

Far too many situations were presented during the Obama administration where journalists were threatened with sanctions during leak investigations, although neither current Attorney General Loretta Lynch nor her predecessor, Eric Holder actually jailed reporters.

The top law enforcement officer in the nation must understand the importance of having a news media that is free and unfettered when it comes to doing its work.  

Democracy works best when its citizens are well-informed and that information must come from sources of all types and not just from a stream of Tweets.