WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday announced legislation to protect journalists from political targeting. This legislation comes after reports that President Trump’s political appointees at the United States Global Agency for Media (USAGM) launched a politically-motivated investigation into Voice of America’s White House Reporter Steve Herman:
“Investigating journalists because they do not always report positively on President Trump is antithetical to American values and downright illegal. The United States is a democracy, and freedom of the press is critical to the functioning of our government. I’m introducing legislation that seeks to protect journalists from political targeting so they can continue unbiased reporting without fear of retribution. President Trump wants to behave like third-world dictators who clamp down on negative press, but Congress cannot and must not allow it to happen here,” said Murphy.
· Amends the United States International Broadcasting Act to explicitly protect USAGM journalists from interference from U.S. government officials, including any investigation into journalists’ private political views;
· Requires the CEO of the USAGM to protect its journalists from interference by government agencies or officials, and to ensure that USAGM employees are judged on the basis of their adherence to professional standards of broadcast journalism and not on political views expressed in their private capacity; and
· Authorizes the State Department Inspector General to investigate any potential infringements to journalistic independence by United States Agency for Global Media senior officials or other Federal officials, including informal and formal attempts to influence the content of broadcasts or to exert pressure on journalists.