What part of “public hearing” do you not understand?
Print This Post
CBS News reports that the Justice Department threatened to kick out a newspaper reporter for reporting what a Justice Department official said at a public hearing.
The Daily Iberian contends Justice Department attorney Rachel Hranitzky became “belligerent and threatening” after the reporter, Matthew Beaton, questioned why he couldn’t quote her comments during a June 12 public hearing about the New Iberia Fire Department’s hiring and promotion practices.
The newspaper reported that Hranitzky told Beaton he would be asked to leave the City Hall hearing if he didn’t comply with her directive.
“Then (the Justice Department) can call your editors and publisher at the paper, and trust you don’t want to get on the Department of Justice’s bad side,” the paper quoted Hranitzky as saying.
If events transpired anything as the complaint alleges, Attorney Hranitzky should of course be fired. It is unacceptable to have a lawyer for the Department of Justice both so ignorant of the law, and so ready to abuse authority in an attempt to intimidate the press.
There are such petty tyrants throughout school boards, city councils, and police departments across the country. Some of our public servants take offense at the public recording their words and deeds, and they are wrong.
This case is much different from the recent controversy over Speaker Bill O’Brien banning the Concord Monitor from a press conference. Such events are neither public nor official. So while politicians attempting to pick their own press corps is a bad idea that should be discouraged, it does not raise the legal issues of the Louisiana case. Though we have consistently argued that attempts to exclude certain members of the press are short-sighted and counter-productive.
Public officials need to know that the public has every right to watch them do their jobs, and that includes documenting them do their jobs. There is no justification to prevent people from recording any public meeting or public action.
Comments are closed.