Accusing Trump of 'Attacking Journalists,' Dems Introduce Bill to Federally Criminalize Any Physical Harm Done To a Reporter

P. Gardner Goldsmith | March 15, 2019

Remember that dusty, totemic, oft-overlooked, supposed “rule book” for the United States government called the U.S. Constitution?

And you know how that Constitution arranges for very limited, enumerated powers granted to the feds, and the rest are left to the states?

And you know how James Madison warned people that one of those specific powers, the so-called “Interstate Commerce” clause (Article One, Section Eight, Clause Three), should not be misread to imply that it gave the feds power to control anything traveling over state borders? How, as noted by Edmund Contoski, Madison specifically said that it was not “to be used for positive purposes,” but as a “negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States (as entities) themselves”?

Well, big Democrats in Washington are at it again, disregarding all of those facts, and pushing yet another bill that not only federalizes something the feds have no Constitutional power to touch, but reveals the obvious and transparent nature of their preludes to this oppressive, overreaching bill.

Last week, in an article and a video for MRCTV, I reported on an “anonymous source” who told Bloomberg that N.Y. Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler wanted to call “hearings” (read: promotional events to push legislation) on whether Donald Trump’s verbal criticism of the clearly biased and often incorrect pop news media was “constitutional”. I also noted that not only did Jerry Nadler vote for the 2016 “Portman-Murphy Fighting Foreign Propaganda Act” that handed cash out to federally favored “journalists,” he was a sponsor of the 2012 law that lifted the ban on the feds spreading propaganda inside the U.S., and that he was silent about the Obama IRS targeting conservative journalists over and over and over…

Well, the predictable “other shoe” has dropped.

Joe Concha reports for The Hill that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D, Calif.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D, Conn.), and Sen. Bob “Clean As A Whistle” Menendez (D, N.J.) just gathered to re-introduce Swalwell’s “Journalism Protection Act”, which would create a special federal distinction for “journalists” who are threatened or physically harmed.

‘The Journalist Protection Act 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,’ reads the Tuesday press release. ‘It 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.’

And there we see many of the ways federal politicians stretch the Constitution like silly putty.

First, they try to tie the protected reporters to the idea that their work might “affect interstate commerce or foreign commerce.” Not only is this a misreading of the Interstate Commerce clause, even if one accepted the misreading, it’s such a stretch that one could claim (as previous politicians have, actually) that virtually any personal endeavor involved with trade could effect “interstate commerce”.

Second, the bill isn’t even limited to its rabid misreading of the “interstate commerce clause.” That’s just pretense upon pretense. The second phrase of the press release tells us that it will be a federal crime to cause bodily injury to a journalist “in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering for a media organization…”

And that’s a whole new Pandora’s Box they’re opening, meaning the feds can charge with a federal crime anyone who physically harms a reporter, anytime, anywhere.

Obviously, this isn't an endorsement of aggressively harming other people. But laws regarding assault and battery outside of D.C. are supposed to be defined and passed on a state level. Only if the perpetrator were to physically travel over state lines, or to kidnap and travel over state lines with the victim, is the federal government supposed to get involved.

All of this pandering and posturing is so transparent, it's shameful.

When Swalwell introduced his bill last year, he straight-facedly said:

I really wish I didn't have to introduce this, but we have seen rhetoric from the President declaring the media as the 'enemy of the state.’

Yet, Trump’s statements are mere words, grist for the public debate, often used to defend himself against erroneous reporting. He isn’t taking government action to close a news organization or arrest reporters.

Not like Swalwell’s former hero, Barack Obama.

It’s remarkable that he, or any, of the Democrats co-sponsoring this totalitarian legislation can stare into the cameras and make their preachy, cringe-worthy statements, when their heroic President, Barack Obama, attempted to use the Espionage Act against journalists and whistle-blowers more times than all other Presidents combined since the act was passed in World War One.

Funny he didn’t mention that or stand beside Obama's IRS head, Lois Lerner, when he was proselytizing about keeping the government off the backs of the press.

It seems he and his allies are only interested in freedom for certain journalists, and are far more interested in painting Trump as the enemy of the press. And all this after they stood by while Obama attacked journalists, and after they voted in favor of using federal funds to prop up the dying dinosaurs of the left-wing establishment press.

Classic. Watch this hand while the other rummages through your pockets.

Let’s not fall for their tricks.