Forum Recap: Panelists Voice Strong Concerns about Press Freedom at Bipartisan Forum

Washington, DC, August 3, 2017

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On July 24, 2017, Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Mark Sanford (R-SC), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) hosted a bipartisan forum on freedom of the press entitled, “The State of Press Freedom in 21st Century America.”

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, among other things, that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press . . . .”  The forum explored President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to seemingly de-legitimize mainstream news outlets by calling them “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people;” threats by President Trump to change libel laws to make it easier to pursue lawsuits against the press; aggressive efforts by the Administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush to prosecute or pressure journalists; the potential epidemic of misinformation being presented to the public as “news” that may threaten to undermine the credibility of legitimate journalism; restrictions on access to press briefings; and physical threats to journalists.

Panelists included:

  • Marvin Kalbformer Meet the Press host, CBS and NBC correspondent; Senior Adviser, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; Harvard Professor Emeritus; and Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution
  • Jeff BallouPresident, National Press Club
  • Floyd AbramsConstitutional Litigator and Adjunct Professor at New York University School of Law
  • Jennifer RubinWriter of the “Right Turn” Blog, Washington Post
  • Kyle PopeEditor-in-Chief, Columbia Journalism Review
  • Alicia ShepardMedia ethics expert and contributing writer for USA Today
  • Rick BlumExecutive Director, News Media for Open Government

During the forum, Ranking Member Conyers asked Marvin Kalb about current concerns over threats to press freedom given his decades of experience. Kalb responded, in part, “In my judgment, Congressman, it’s worse than all of those put together. By which, I mean, that for the first time in my life, I feel that there is a genuine danger to our democracy. These are not words I use easily, believe me. But I truly believe that now, because if the underpinning of our democracy is being attacked, you can start with the press and you go on to the Judiciary…” Watch the full exchange here.


Watch the full forum here.

View all photos here.