Common Cause Slams Media Restrictions on Impeachment Trial

Common Cause is pushing back on reported restrictions to press coverage of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Roll Call reported that citing security concerns, the Senate has instituted new screening and restrictions on reporters trying to cover the proceedings.

The Standing Committee of Senate Correspondents has complained about the restrictions, according to the Hill Paper.

Common Cause added its voice.

"[S]everely restricting their access to Senators comes across as nothing more than a blatant attempt to limit transparency and Member accountability in what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has billed as a show trial to ostensibly 'clear' President Trump of any wrongdoing," said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. "The American people deserve a transparent impeachment trial, but this is one more attempt to deny that to them. These are reporters who interact with Members of Congress every day in the halls of Congress and penning reporters looks like a dog-and-pony show to allow Senators to dodge tough questions."

The Senate trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday (Jan. 21), according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"If there are specific threats that led to these severe media restrictions, then the public should be informed of that fact," said Hobert Flynn. "Otherwise these actions are completely unjustified. Americans expect and deserve a fully transparent impeachment trial that examines all the facts, utilizes all pertinent evidence, and hears from witnesses. For the Senate to produce anything less would be a show of GOP contempt for our justice system, and it would be a show of GOP contempt for the American people."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.