Worrisome news broke out of New York on Tuesday as word came of a reporter from The Associated Press who was allegedly grabbed by the shoulders and shoved out of an Environmental Protection Agency building by a security guard while trying to cover a meeting on water contaminants.
Some members of the media were welcomed to the meeting, while others were not, according to an AP report.
Later, it should be noted, an aide to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt called the reporter — AP’s Ellen Knickmeyer — to apologize and say the entire incident was being looked into.
And Knickmeyer, who said she wasn’t hurt, was later let into the meeting when the EPA reversed its bizarre decision and opened the meeting to ... well, the public.
But on Wednesday, CNN reported that journalists had again been barred from attending the meeting.
Now, if you’re reading this and you aren’t upset, you should be. Because whether you agree with Pruitt’s politics, or characterize AP’s coverage as “fake news,” kicking the media out of public meetings, barring reporters from entering, or, to a lesser extent, refusing to answer basic questions, has terrifying repercussions.
As the editor of Politico put it, her publication “would much rather be writing about the agency’s efforts to address this health problem than about reporters being excluded.”
Journalists all across the world act on behalf of the public. So when the government — local or otherwise — shuts out the media, it slams the door in the people’s face.
Which is important to remember when reading headlines about this sort of thing, because it wasn’t just an AP reporter who was grabbed by a government security guard.
It was you.