The arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew on live television this morning simply for reporting on the protests of police violence in Minneapolis violates the most basic tenet of press freedom: the necessity of reporting what are at times uncomfortable truths for government authorities. The government possesses enormous coercive power, that as this episode clearly shows, can be all too easily applied to limit or prevent the press from reporting on their actions. The First Amendment exists precisely for this reason.
The arrest of Jimenez even underscores the reasons for the protests he was covering. No one has been arrested in the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. But Jimenez, who like Floyd is black, has been arrested. There was even another CNN crew near Jimenez at the time of his arrest, but Josh Campbell and his producers were, according to Campbell, “treated much differently,” and were obviously not arrested.
Today we speak with one voice. The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, John Stanton, and Nick Charles for the Save Journalism Project:
Omar Jimenez was arrested for doing his job, accurately reporting to the American people what is happening during an ongoing crisis. He was arrested for reporting on the protests of the killing of George Floyd–an unarmed black man–by Minneapolis police while being black himself. The job of journalists is ‘to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’ In these times of multiple ongoing crises, the American people need journalists to fight hard to hold government officials accountable. Reporters should not just blithely accept their words as truth or we’re never going to have meaningful societal change and progress. And the American people need to have their back.
Daniel Medinger | Publisher | The Business Monthly