By William J. Holstein and Brian Byrd
NEW YORK July 26, 2018—The Overseas Press Club of America added its voice Thursday to that of other news and media organizations that have protested President Trump’s decision to prevent CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from covering a White House event because she had asked “inappropriate” questions. This is not the first time the Trump Administration has banned the press from an event. In May 2018, Rene Marsh, also of CNN, Ellen Knickmeyer, from The Associated Press, and Corbin Hiar, a reporter for E & E News, were all banned from covering an EPA event on the impact of toxic chemicals on drinking water.
The OPC noted that it usually concerns itself with American media coverage of the world as opposed to domestic U.S. issues, but the symbolism of what Trump has done toward the American media in general and toward CNN in this particular case is being watched carefully by increasingly strong-handed rulers in countries around the world such as Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, the Philippines, Venezuela, Poland, and Hungary not to mention China and Russia.
“We have to make it very clear that this type of behavior will be resisted by an increasingly unified American media, not just on our shores, but everywhere in the world,” OPC President Deidre Depke said. “If Trump can escape condemnation for violating basic tenets of America’s freedom of press doctrine, we can only imagine that other dictators and despots around the world will attempt to follow suit. The consequences for local journalists, fixers, drivers and translators who support Western correspondents in their efforts to ferret out the truth could be even more severe because of a burst of imprisonments and murders, as documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch. That, in turn, impedes the ability of American correspondents to inform the U.S. public about critical issues.”
The OPC appealed to all media non-profits and organizations to raise their voices in unison to make it clear that the American media will resist strong-handed tactics in the White House and around the world. The liberty of the press is essential to democracy and the security of a free state.
William J. Holstein is Past President of the OPC, and Brian Byrd is a member of the OPC Board of Governors.
The Overseas Press Club is an international association of journalists based in New York City that works to encourage the highest standards in journalism, to educate the next generation of foreign correspondents and to promote international press freedom and the well-being of colleagues in the field.