Even trouble-making reporters? Even addled ones? Alex Jones and company like to see how close they can come; on the other hand (at least if we're charting from the French), Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman likes to start trouble.
Trouble she's got. Covering a confrontation between protestors and pipeline workers/security, she managed to get herself arrested and charged with "trespass" and "riot." Trespass proving too tricky to prove, she's left having to answer to participating in a riot.
I don't find Ms. Goodman especially wonderful; there's likely nothing we agree on and she's a real hands-on advocacy journalist, with all that entails. But ah, there's that word: "journalist."
We've got this thing called the First Amendment. It protects even people we don't much like. Larry Flint, Alex Jones...Amy Goodman. Not just NBC, Matt Drudge, HuffPo or Breitbart; not just your local newspaper (if any) or the news department of your local radio stations (likewise). Nope, it all starts with edge cases. People you don't like. Viewpoints you abhor.
The principle is, you don't jail reporters for being on the wrong side of an issue, or for being jerks, or for being inconvenient. If they do actually break the law, the burden of proof is quite high. On the other hand, being reporters, they often can show proof in form of notes, or audio or video recordings -- indeed, sharing what they gather is a huge part of their job.
So we'll see how this one plays out. The pipeline is a huge issue, especially for those closest to it. Who wants to freeze in the dark? Who wants to roll the dice on an oil spill into their only water source? Who wants ten-dollar-a-gallon gasoline? --Nobody. And there's probably a better way to resolve it than by yelling, throwing things, using tear gas and dogs and breaking heads. Or valves. So far neither side has found anything better and without reporters shoving this under the national spotlight, there's not a lot of pressure on them to do so. The big guys at CNNBCABCBS/WaPoNYLATimes weren't paying a lot of attention until she and her ilk took an interest; it's tangled enough that you can't cover much in a minute-thirty or two column-inches and getting compelling images has a poor risk/reward ratio for them. So we need edge cases out there. We need agenda-driven reporters because they're the only ones willing to make the drive out to the middle of damn nowhere and send back words and pictures.
Arresting them is kinda not so very good.
Come Monday, we'll find out what the courts in North Dakota think. Stay tuned -- even if you have to dig for the results.
(You don't need to tell me what a terrible, terrible person she is in comments. Consider that stipulated. That's not at issue here; in fact, it had darned well better not be at issue in court, either.)
4 weeks ago