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Importance of a Free Press

By Brian Nowak

On Wednesday, May 4th 2017, West Virginia Capitol Police handcuffed reporter Dan Heyman and charged with a misdemeanor count of willful disruption of governmental processes. After 8 hours, he was freed on $5,000 bail.

Heyman was arrested for asking questions of US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. Price was speaking publicly regarding the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), the Republican Party’s plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Heyman asked wether domestic violence would be a pre-existing condition under the newly-proposed AHCA. He asked his question repeatedly and “loudly”, even asking if the secretary wanted to go on record as “no comment.”

At a time when newsrooms are running on tighter budgets and smaller staffs, it’s more important than ever for those reporters going into the field to do their best to get the story. Our democracy requires an informed public, and that requires a free press with the liberty to question elected officials.

Dan Heyman, in the complaint filed on his behalf by the ACLU, conceded he didn’t believe security was intentionally tying to block him, but conceded that his arrest fit a wider pattern from the Trump administration.

The Trump adminstration has repeatedly used surrogates to attack “fake news.” Attacking media outlets makes for good campaign fooder and partisan rhetoric, but attacking the press as an institution on a daily basis does no good for America.


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