A group of 10 Democratic senators introduced a resolution Wednesday calling on President Donald Trump to not restrict media access to the White House and affirm “the importance of a free and unfettered press.”
The resolution is a response to the White House’s decision to bar CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from an open press event last week. It was a punitive measure after Collins asked Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op about a discussion with his former lawyer Michael Cohen about a payoff over an alleged affair. It’s common practice for reporters to shout out questions during such occasions, although they frequently aren’t answered.
“Punishing reporters for simply doing their job is a strongman tactic that cannot be tolerated in a free democracy. President Trump may not like tough questions, but that’s simply too bad,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), who led the introduction, said in a statement. “Retaliating and banning reporters from public briefings on public property violates a public trust and perhaps the law.”
He added the press’ role in our democracy is “more critical than ever,” according to The Hill.
NEW: Democratic senators introduce resolution calling on Pres. Trump to “respect our free press rather than demean and diminish it.”
— ABC News (@ABC) August 1, 2018
Blumenthal’s resolution was co-sponsored by nine other Democrats: Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Patty Murray (Wash.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Ben Cardin (Md.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.).
They also released statements defending the media, with Menendez saying “the press is not the enemy of the American people,” a reference to an attack frequently invoked by Trump.
Trump often blasts the media as “fake news,” leading to admonishments from reporters like CNN’s Jim Acosta that his invective will encourage someone to hurt a journalist or worse. Acosta tweeted out a widely shared video of him getting heckled by Trump’s supporters in Tampa Bay, Florida, on Tuesday.