NAB's Gordon Smith Urges Journalist Briefings on Potential Inauguration-Related Violence

Gordon Smith during the 2019 NAB Show
(Image credit: Robb Cohen Photography & Video, Kevin Jones, Adam Shane, Lisa Staszewski and Timm Andrews)

National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith is urging law enforcement to keep journalists apprised of potential violence in the run-up to the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President.

In an op-ed in The Hill, Smith said it was imperative that law enforcement "provide security briefings to news media to help keep journalists safe while reporting from the field."

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He pointed out that social media posts on protest organizing sites have labeled reporters as "soft targets" and possible victims of violence.

During the storming of the Capitol Jan. 6, he wrote: "Members of the media were bullied, verbally harassed and physically intimidated. Some were assaulted as they tried to do their jobs or left in the face of violent threats. Others had equipment stolen and destroyed. “Murder the media” was even scratched into a door of the Capitol.

"Jan. 6 was a new day of infamy in the chronicle of American history. Yet, the press did not relent in the face of danger, and we are grateful to the dedicated journalists who risked their lives to cover this monumental story. Now, as journalists prepare to cover additional protests, it is of supreme importance that law enforcement equip them with the necessary tools and information to stay out of harm’s way while doing their jobs during these dangerous times," he wrote.

The Capitol attack was personal for Smith, himself a former senator from Oregon. "[I]t is hard to fathom that the place I honor and cherish as the secular temple of our democracy could be desecrated by a domestic mob."

President Trump has labeled the media as fake news, corrupt, and enemies of the people, and did nothing to discourage his rally crowds from joining in such attacks.

The President issued a statement Wednesday in the midst of the House's consideration of his impeachment over allegedly inciting the deadly storming of the Capitol.

"In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You."

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.