By Scott Thomas
KFVS12 Vice President and General Manager
The assault on a journalist by now Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, is the most recent violation of the First Amendment’s recognition of a free press. That followed Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s “joke” about shooting reporters. A governor said that.
Reckless statements by politicians seem to give others permission to harass, threaten, or even physically harm reporters. Terms like "liberal media" and "fake news" are routinely hurled like clubs when certain political leaders do not like a story, or simply object to being asked a tough question. While no KFVS12 reporter has been physically attacked, most have been hit by insults and other comments on social media or in person.
Here’s one example from a recent incident our reporter experienced in Jefferson City:
“You know 95% of the media hates conservatives!"
"That’s not true!"
"That’s what they said on the radio.”
Let me tell you something about our business. Local reporters are dedicated to objectively reporting the truth. They pursue facts and report them with great courage and conviction, many times with great opposition. They report the facts because they believe you deserve the truth. And they are trained to keep out their opinions. In fact, this ViewPoint is the only place in our newscast created for opinions.
In recent weeks, we've been to the state capitols of Missouri and Illinois. And we asked hard questions. No one got body slammed or accused of spreading fake news. Our state leaders answered all our questions respectfully as they should. It would seem they understand better than some politicians that questions from the media come when you sign up for the job, and that their constituents expect answers.
Our Founding fathers believed a free press is an additional check on government, one that they protected with the constitution, as if they knew what would happen if powerful politicians were unchecked. Tough, but fair, journalism has been a powerful force for good throughout our nation’s history. And Its seems some of our national leaders need a history lesson.
I’m Scott Thomas, and that’s our ViewPoint.
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