News

Swalwell introduces bill to protect journalists from physical harm

Local congressman decries 'toxic atmosphere' created by Trump administration

Local U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) introduced legislation on Monday that would make certain attacks on news reporters a federal crime.

Specifically, the so-called "Journalist Protection Act" would make it a federal crime to purposefully cause bodily harm to a journalist affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the course of reporting or in a way intended to intimidate them from news-gathering for a media organization.

Swalwell said the Democrat-sponsored legislation was borne from the Trump administration, in his eyes, fostering a hostile and anti-media environment throughout the country.

"President Donald Trump's campaign and administration have created a toxic atmosphere," said Swalwell, whose district includes Pleasanton. "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."

Swalwell cited a handful of violent incidents against journalists as inspiration for the bill, including an assault against OC Weekly journalists at a "Make America Great Again" rally in March, a reporter being punched in the face at the infamous August protests in Charlottesville, Va., and a blogger in Joplin, Mo. attacked in September.

He also argued Trump's personal behavior has been setting a dangerous precedent, through actions like describing mainstream media outlets as "the enemy of the American People" and tweeting a GIF video of himself body-slamming a person with the CNN logo superimposed on their face.

"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," Swalwell said. "We must send a loud, clear message that such violence won't be tolerated."

The bill received support from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and News Media for Open Government, a coalition of news media organizations that advocate for the free flow of information and freedom of the press.

"This is a dangerous time to be a journalist," said Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild, a division of the CWA. "At least 44 reporters were physically attacked in the U.S. last year and angry rhetoric that demonizes reporters persists."

"Online harassment of journalists has included death threats and threats of sexual and other physical violence," added Rick Blum, director of News Media for Open Government. "Taken together, it is clear that not only is the role of the news media in our democracy under attack, but the safety of individual journalists is threatened. It's time to reverse course. Physical violence and intimidation should never get in the way of covering police, protesters, presidents and other public matters."

The Journalist Protection Act is co-sponsored by Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara), Grace Napolitano (D-Los Angeles), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D- Washington, D.C.), Andre Carson (D-Indiana), Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), Darren Soto (D-Florida), Jose Serrano (D-New York), Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) and Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin).

Comments

48 people like this
Posted by Buc Lau
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Swalwell should be sponsoring a bill to protect us from his delusional actions. Now that would be a worthwhile piece of legislation!


31 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 7, 2018 at 2:41 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Because, you see, journalists are a privileged class....

/sar


22 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 7, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Hold on...what exactly are you trying to say? That journalists should be physically assaulted? Or that state laws should be strengthened if they are weak but avoid a federal law? Or are you virtue signaling to other Republicans and the rest of us should just ignore your comments?


45 people like this
Posted by Mitch
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Can someone please run against, and beat this guy? He is not right for the district!


52 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 7, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Swalwell did not mention that the Trump hate rhetoric spewed out by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer resulted in the gunning down of the house republican whip and other republican representatives in Washington while raising money for charity on the softball field.


15 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 8, 2018 at 7:10 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

If you want to not be represented by Swalwell, I’m afraid you may have no choice but to move east. Although the trivalley area is somewhat unique in the Bay for having nearly equal voter registrations, the 15th district extends through Castro Valley and Hayward.

I’m not sure why protecting politicians is related to the tragedy of the Scalise shooting. No reporters were among the victims or perpetrators, and neither was Swalwell. I don’t know if Swalwell knows Scalise in more than passing, but they’re coworkers and I can never imagine why you’d suggest anyone would feel anything more than grief.

As to whether there is a toxic environment, although it is true that the parties have never been so much about winning at all costs as they are now (an affliction which targets the Republican Party hardest but still is at a rise in general), the shooter did what he did on his own volition. Democrats go out of their way to avoid suggesting physically targeting their opposition, let alone calling people traitors or enemies of the people, and so for a person to think that he ought to shoot at a Republican says everything about the shooter and nothing about politics.


Like this comment
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 8, 2018 at 8:14 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

* protesting reporters, not politicians.


31 people like this
Posted by aye
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Feb 8, 2018 at 10:17 am

aye is a registered user.

Too bad Swalwell didn't vote to protect us from illegal immigrants after the Steinle murder...I will never forget that vote...prompted by Nancy Pelosi is my guess...or forgive him.


37 people like this
Posted by D
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 8, 2018 at 11:12 am

D is a registered user.

I'm confused. Is the Trump administration fostering a hostile and anti-media environment throughout the country

or

is the media fostering a hostile and anti-Trump administration environment throughout the country?

Seems to me it's more the latter.

(I didn't vote for Trump and don't like how he behaves much of the time. But I very much like many of the things that have been accomplished during his administration. Most of the media makes a point of focusing on the negative all day, every day. Swalwell is complicit in that. I wish he'd stop.)


13 people like this
Posted by 125
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

125 is a registered user.

With respect to D's position that the media is fostering a hostile environment, I beg to differ. The media has faced an increasingly hostile environment since the campaign days. Trump calls journalists "crooked media" and "sick people". He mocks the physical disability of a reporter. He retweets (then deletes) a meme of a Trump-branded train running into the head of a CNN journalist. As noted in the Weekly's article, many journalists reported feeling unsafe covering his events and a reporter and two photographers were physically assaulted by his supporters at a Huntingdon Beach rally.

I applaud Swalwell and believe if anything, this piece of legislation is long overdue.

Check out: 1.) Web Link, 2. Web Link 3.) Web Link 4. Web Link
4.Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 8, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

@D, even if you were fully right, the difference would be that Trump is an elected politician and the media is not. It’s the press’s job—and the reason for the 1st Amendment, as you fully know—to scrutinize the president in every way, fair or unfair, and then let the people be the judge of what they’ll believe and what they’ll dismiss as hackery. It’s the President’s job—as established by Washington and carried continuously enough until Trump decided not to do his in job—to take it like a patriot, smile gently or dismiss quickly when the media are wrong, but otherwise to ignore them and focus on running the executive branch.

This false equivalence—the media is attacking Trump, so why can’t Trump attack the media—is similar to saying that the police is attacking criminals so why can’t criminals attack back. Because it’s wrong; that’s why. Oh, and that reminds me that’s Trump is attacking the FBI too, even though it’s his job to competently run the police as an independent force separated from the interference of the president.


19 people like this
Posted by Dont Get Fooled Again
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 8, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Dont Get Fooled Again is a registered user.

What a human waste-of-space and a tremendous Democratic dolt this guy is. He needs to go. Protecting journalists?....gimme a break. Do some real work on behalf of tax paying, U.S. citizens. You work for us, not Pelosi/Chuckie...remember?


19 people like this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

I've spent the past several months speaking to people throughout the district. Not once has journalist's safety been mentioned as a key concern. I hear more concerns about congested cities, schools and freeways. People tell me they want Washington to work and are frustrated with all the political posturing and rhetoric.

Eric doesn't seem to be focused on the issues that matter most to you.

I believe we need a Representative in Washington that will focus on your issues.

I’ll be that Representative. www.brendanforcongress.com

Brendan
@BrenStJohn


4 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

Brendan, that’s awesome. The more people who run, the better.

I’d agree that our main issues are congestion, schools, and freeways. But those are primarily local issues. Freeways are local MTA shepherded state projects. The feds can only contribute a bit of money. Schools are also local issues. And congestion was a local issue but the state is working to take that away from cities.

What would a federal congressman be able to do about these issues?


10 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

To any person willing to run for office,

Can we just fix the gosh-darned (not what I really want to say) freeway potholes and increase the amount of lanes?!

Sincerely.


8 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 8, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Brendan: Thanks for letting us know about you plans to run the Congress. Just sent you a donation. Hope to hear from you.

We need a representative who is a grown up and serious about the important issues.


6 people like this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2018 at 7:07 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

@Grumpy

Congressional representatives can assist locally in many ways.

Just recently several area Mayors traveled to Washington and reported on their meetings. One of the key issues was Ace to BART which is being held up for lack of federal funding from the Dept. of Transportation. Now there's more projects than $ to go around. This means some will be approved and others will not. Those that are approved will receive various levels of funding.

Projects in districts for both Democrats and Republicans will be approved. However, like many things in life there can be minor factors that tilt the scales one way or the other. I'd suggest that Eric's tendency to throw out insults and call people traitors, etc will not help our district's chances to be approved and receive the funds necessary for the Ace to BART initiative. However, a representative who is more focused on building relationships in Washington may be more effective in securing Federal support in many areas.

Another example, I was talking with a Dublin resident a few weeks ago who personally helps combat veterans returning from war zones integrate back into society. He hires them and makes sure they are getting the support needed. He was describing to me that there is very little support locally for assisting these soldiers returning from war zones who are suffering for PTSD and other issues. There is more money needed for psychological and emotional support for these brave men and women.

Also, I believe the Federal Government should look very closely at ABAG to see if their policies are Constitutional. State governments and/or un-elected councils should not be able to tell cities what they can and cannot build. Many cities are being strong armed into projects that run counter to their city plans and voter approved initiatives. This is wrong and should never happen.

Eric is on record saying the East Bay needs MORE high density housing. I've not met anyone from the district who has ever expressed to me they support more stack and pack housing.

Brendan


2 people like this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2018 at 7:08 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

@ Doug:

I saw that come through. Thank you very much! That's very thoughtful and generous of you!

Brendan


4 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 8, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

I like having more options and am not trying to be cynical, but I still don’t see the federal question.

1) BART: you’re saying you’ll bring home the bacon. But that’s usually a question of which party runs the the House. You’re not in any party, so you’ll struggle. Right now, Swalwell might not have much sway, but if the Democrats retake the house, he’ll get all the funding we need. So I think your argument of independence—sadly, and this is a problem with a two-party system—cuts against your argument of better funding, when the logical thing for voters to do is always vote for the party who will be in power after that election.

2) PTSD; that’s fantastic. I’d hope there isn’t a person who would vote against that.

3) I admit that I’ve never understood the ABAG problem. The concerns always felt a bit of conspiratorial paranoia, but that’s as much because the storage guy puts some really obsessive sounding billboards on his property off of 580 and that ought to be a turnoff to independent thinkers. But in any event, If they do what you suggest than this is a state question, unless you see a particular 14th amendment issue. There is no federal requirement that agencies be elected, or even be agencies. So although you may be able to use a bit of bully pulpit, I think you’d otherwise be powerless.


17 people like this
Posted by sanity
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 9, 2018 at 10:08 am

sanity is a registered user.

How about a law that holds journalists and politicians accountable for making false statements? There's plenty of that happening on both sides of the isle. It creates false narratives that have been tearing this country apart for decades when we should be pulling together instead. So, how about an Honesty policy? If you make false public statements you have to apologize using the same media and frequency as the false statements in the same time slots that you made them in. If Politicians and news media were held accountable for their actions like the rest of us are, things would change in a big way pretty damn quick.


8 people like this
Posted by sanity
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 9, 2018 at 10:12 am

sanity is a registered user.

How about a special news segment for liars to confess and apologize for misleading the people. We can line them so folks can see exactly who is trustworthy and who should be voted out. I bet it would be a hit show!


5 people like this
Posted by sanity
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 9, 2018 at 10:13 am

sanity is a registered user.

*Line them up.


2 people like this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2018 at 5:01 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

Grumpy:

Thank you for your dialog, and there's nothing wrong with skepticism. Everyone should be skeptical of politicians and candidates. We need more of that, and healthy open dialog.

Your original question was how can a congressional member assist with local issues.

I'll point you to this article in the Pleasanton Weekly:
Web Link

1) The local Mayors believe that the Ace-to-BART connection can help alleviate some traffic on our congested freeways (580/680). The project has stalled and needs Federal Funding. That was one of the reasons the local Mayors went to Washington and sought assistance from Eric Swalwell, Diane Feinstein and others. Party in power is impactful as the Head of the DOT is appointed, but generally these departments do look to benefit the welfare of the country. However, when dollars are finite and projects numerous there is always going to be options available at the DOT to allocate funds to any number of metropolitan cities who all need funds for transit upgrades. Chicago is heavily democratic, and they have just launched a plan for a $2.3B rail extension. These are the types of needs we'll be competing against.

I believe an Independent who 1) focuses on the issue and 2) works to build strong relationships stands a much better chance to get funds. As someone I met said, “He can’t fix what he isn’t working on…” Currently CNN has the 222 Republican seats as Lean, Likely and Solid. The Democrats would need to do the following win control of the House:
• Win 100% of the 20 toss up districts
• HOLD 100% of all 8 “lean” Democrat districts
• Win at least 8 “lean” Republican districts

Not impossible, but it will take some things to break favorably for the Democrats. Here’s something to keep in mind if the Democrats do not win the House back in 2018 - Eric Swalwell *could* be potentially be even MORE out of favor. He's aligned with Nancy Pelosi's camp and support is starting for fade for the Minority leader. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) received about a third of the vote in his bid to replace Pelosi as minority leader. One has to have reasonable doubts that if there is a failure to gain control of the House if her time as Minority Leader is over. Thus, Eric would still be in the minority party AND *potentially* outside of the circle of influence. Having burned every bridge across the aisle as well he'll have few allies to work with in Washington.

2) Who’d vote against it? Interesting you should ask. Eric has voted against drought relief that was crafted by Diane Feinstein and signed by President Obama. He voted against the government funding a few weeks ago that provided funding for CHIP, and just today voted against the funding that had provisions for California wildfire relief. Sure, we all know that no congressional member can have a perfect voting record on issues because of the way legislation is managed in Washington, but he seems to be simply defaulting to “resist” rather than looking at the bigger picture. I’ve heard from CA15 residents (Democrats and Republicans) who are very disappointed with his partisan approach. He ran in 2012 saying over and over he’d work with anyone in Washington.

3) I do see ABAG as vulnerable to Federal challenge under Article 1 the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protections clause. Wiki describes as“The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local government officials from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without legislative authorization.” When citizens vote to restrict housing growth this should not simply be able to be overturned by an un-elected and unaccountable group of individuals. The key aspect here is that nothing will be done if no one is even investigating or working on it. It’s the #1 issue that I hear form people I meet and Eric has stated the same. If it’s the #1 issue of the district why isn’t more being done to address the problem?

Thank you for engaging in the dialog. I truly value your straightforward and respectful approach to exploring opinions and stances. We need more discussion like this one. Best regards.


8 people like this
Posted by PleasantonTaxpayer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 9, 2018 at 5:56 pm

PleasantonTaxpayer is a registered user.

Grumpy wrote: "This false equivalence—the media is attacking Trump, so why can’t Trump attack the media—is similar to saying that the police is attacking criminals so why can’t criminals attack back."

I believe you got it backwards. It should read: the media is attacking Trump, so why can’t Trump attack the media—is similar to saying that criminals are attacking the police so why can’t the police attack back? In other words, the media is the criminals.


26 people like this
Posted by PleasantonTaxpayer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm

PleasantonTaxpayer is a registered user.

So Swalwell wants special federal protections for journalists, but he wouldn't support legislation that protects ordinary American citizens (e.g., Kate Steinle) from convicted criminals in our country illegally.


19 people like this
Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Jake Waters is a registered user.

So this is Swalwell’s idea of representing Americans. This is nothing more than Swalwell and the Democratic Party sabotaging the Trump administration. The media struck first against Trump, and as a fighter, he hit back. The mainstream media is crying and losing the battle they started, so call in the Democrats to save them. Swalwell should start doing something for the American people or he may find himself becoming a defense lawyer for the rest of his life.


5 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 10, 2018 at 9:56 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

@PT, your argument proves, not rebuts, my point. The president may never attack the media. It doesn’t matter who started it. He has a duty under the constitution to protect the media—especially those attacking him. The media has no duty whatsoever, as it’s a free enterprise that is the essence of our capitalistic and democratic system. If you can’t see that, then you don’t understand what our founders created.


1 person likes this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 10, 2018 at 10:05 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Brendan,

Thanks for the responses. I’m not sure you proved your case.

As I said, the House really can only direct federal funds. But if the Democrats retake the house, Swalwell would be better able to fight for dollars. If the Republicans keep the house, the Republican candidate would be better able to. Thus, a voter interested in local funding would be better to vote for whichever party wins. That’s not to say that this is a good thing. I’d rather have independents. But our system doesn’t really allow for that. So, although I totally agree with you that independence should be the right thing, that would be true in another system as our system works against that.

That’s why I’m hoping you had more to say on that topic and less on “I’d fight for you”. I’m sure you would. But it’s not the fight in the dog that matters in Congress.

As for a 14th amendment action, no one will prevail on a takings claim. There are no takings. In fact, more housing is a boon to landowners. It just sucks for all of us who already live here. And, as I said, no claim that property was taken undemocratically matters federally. Some states may have prohibitions. But the federal constitution allows states to create what structures they want, so long as a clear process is established. Even condemnation can proceed by appointed officials. So could you state what you think you could do here? I suppose a HUD policy disfavoring suburban growth, or something else that doesn’t rely on dubious legal claims?

Thanks



3 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 10, 2018 at 10:50 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

By the way, shifting development priorities from suburban to urban growth would be good for both conservative and liberal priorities. Conservatives would get to protect the character of their rural and suburban communities. Liberals would see reduced sprawl, less money needed for freeways, less pollution, and more efficient living.

It puzzles me to no end why the main group of liberals around here want to force suburban growth. It’s totally contrary to their priorities. But then it’s like why they want to close or narrow random SF streets, magically hoping that cars will disappear, when that just increases pollution, slows bus times, and raises traffic deaths.


1 person likes this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2018 at 1:31 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

@ Grumpy

Maybe that's what makes me a little different than the standard rank and file politician - I'm just trying to share my views using examples; not prove a point or win an argument.

I value your perspective and opinions. You present several well thought out and valid points. We can always agree to disagree. ;-) Best Regards, Brendan


4 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 10, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

You don’t have to win an argument, but I might like to vote for you. I know there are a lot of people like me—people disaffected by both parties and looking for a meaningful independent—so I was hoping you would want to make the case for why a vote for an independent isn’t a throw away vote.


9 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

“By the way, shifting development priorities from suburban to urban growth would be good for both conservative and liberal priorities. Conservatives would get to protect the character of their rural and suburban communities. Liberals would see reduced sprawl, less money needed for freeways, less pollution, and more efficient living. “

I see.

So in your scenario, liberals get to live in the cities they created and love, but conservatives can’t live where we want because we need to protect the environment and live in the cities that liberals love.

The fact that conservatives moved out of cities because democrats have turned them into s-holes has no resonance with you, does it?

And you’re an independent?

What’s next, relocation camps and “political re-training”?

Dan


1 person likes this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

@ Grumpy

That's a conversation that might be best over coffee rather than a chat board.

Feel free to send me an email brendanforcongress@comcast.net and we can set something up.

Brendan


1 person likes this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 10, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

Dan, no oh no, you don’t see. You didn’t read what I wrote very well, and you’re overemotional to boot.

I’ll try again.

Pleasanton is suburban. I said the government should shift priorities away from suburban growth towards urban growth.

I also said that this is a good thing for conservatives, because it would, in effect, let conservatives live in low-growth suburbs and retain control over the community character that the state is desperately trying to take away. Hell, liberals, socialists, and fascists can continue to live in a community of the character they wish as well. I am NOT advocating that Pleasanton be made urban. I am saying quite the opposite.

This is EXACTLY what you are also advocating for. You agree with me. You just don’t have the patience or the calmness to recognize that.

Therefore, I am not at all an independent. Tell me what party you belong to, and I will make sure I am NOT a member of it.




Like this comment
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 10, 2018 at 11:47 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Grumpy,

Grumpy,

Perhaps it’s more your unclear writing style than my misunderstanding or “overemotion”, whatever that means.

For instance, you state: “Liberals would see reduced sprawl, less money needed for freeways, less pollution, and more efficient living. “

Why do I care what a liberal living in an urban area thinks of the sprawl in my community? If he doesn’t like it, tough. If I don’t like it, I’ll move.

In addition, when I see the word “sprawl” I don’t think of urban population centers, I think of suburban towns. Since by definition, city’s don’t grow out as much as they grow up. Therefore, you are indicating that suburban towns should have no growth.

And if government (you don’t mention whether local, state or federal) shifts priorities to urban centers, what does that do for suburban areas? And what priorities are you referring?

Hopefully you can explain yourself a little clearer without the insults.

Dan


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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