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Reporters Group Praises Press Support at Dem Debate

Dokhi Fassihian, the executive director of Reporters Without Borders USA, says she was heartened by the expressions of support for journalists by two of the Democratic candidates during the debate Thursday (Dec. 19).

In a letter sent out Friday (Dec. 20) to journalists, Fasshian singled out Pete Buttigieg. "I was pleased to hear Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s meaningful statement that "when the American president refers to unfavorable press coverage as the product of the 'Enemy of the People,' democracy around the world gets weaker. Freedom of the press not just here at home but around the world gets weaker. It's one more reminder of what is at stake, not just here at home, but for world history."

Related: Trump Pumps Up Media Attacks

She also referenced Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and her citation of her father as a newspaperman when tracing the origins of her love for a free press. "I am the one that asked every attorney general candidate we've had under Donald Trump, both of whom I opposed, about their respect for the First Amendment," Klobuchar said, "and they have refused. They have refused to follow the rules that Attorney General [Eric] Holder put in place when it came to protecting our journalists."

Under questioning from Klobuchar at his confirmation hearing, Attorney General William Barr declined to rule out jailing reporters "for doing their jobs." He said he could conceive of situations where as a last resort and where a news organization had "run through a red flag" and where "putting out that stuff will hurt the country," a journalist could be held in contempt.

Fassihian said she was "encouraged to see political leaders finally address the threat to press freedom in the United States and its impact on the rest of the world."

Defending the media would certainly be a difference between the Democratic presidential candidate and their likely opponent, President Donald Trump, who has been branded a threat to journalism by the committee trying to protect them for his constant attacks on major media as fake, failing, and in league with his political opponents to remove him from office. 

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.