After the New York Observer first beefed about the beatings and arrest of both credentialed and uncredentialed reporters, 13 news organizations in New York City formally complained Monday to Mayor Mike's administration. What is this, they asked, more or less, some totalitarian foreign land that represses free speech?
Bloomberg News, in fact, was not one of the signatories to the letter. How ironic, when speaking of the free press. I wonder what its top journalists think about that? In addition to the original signers, 10 press clubs, unions and other groups that represent journalists called for an investigation and said they had formed a coalition to monitor police behavior going forward, according to the New York Times, and other reports.
His honor the mayor, at a press conference after rousting the peaceful, if boisterous, Zuccotti Park protesters, defended the New York Police Department overreach, claiming that the press was muzzled and kept away to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press, according to the paper of record. This excuse--so often used by repressive regimes abroad but a violation of the spirit, if not the law, of the First Amendment of our Constitution--was in response to numerous violations of NYPD regulations in a variety of incidents in which legitimate members of the press were threatened, arrested and jailed for long times incommunicado--and even injured. Some of these incidents are detailed in the letter .
The Times reported that the letter was written by George Freeman, vice president and assistant general counsel for The New York Times Company, and signed by representatives for The Associated Press, The New York Post, The Daily News, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones & Company, and three local television stations, WABC, WCBS and WNBC. It was also signed by representatives for the National Press Photographers Association, New York Press Photographers Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the New York Press Club.
Not exactly a rebellious crew of bloggers, eh? They were joined by the New York Press Club, among other well-respected first amendment groups. The organizations have called for an investigation.
But don't hold your breath; an official self-examination is about as likely as Russia's oligarch-in-chief holding investigations into the way he scored all that money he's moved offshore. Just last week, says the Times, Stu Loeser, the press secretary for Bloomberg, said there's no doubt that some of the arrested reporters were in fact trespassing.
Loeser weakly argued that, after all, after holding them for hours and preventing journalists from reporting the truth, the arrests were voided.
American patriots, who believe in free speech to his honor Mayor Bloomberg: Thanks, Mr. Putin, enjoy your weekend retreat in that Burmuda dacha of yours.