Swalwell for America
May 3, 2019


DUBLIN, CA – 2020 Democratic candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell on Friday – the United Nations’ World Press Freedom Day – unveiled a package of press access and transparency reforms he will enact as President.

“The age of labelling journalists as ‘enemies of the people’ will end with Donald Trump’s departure, and will be remembered as an anti-democratic travesty,” Swalwell said. “I understand and embrace the role of the free press in nurturing and preserving our democracy, and as President, I’ll make sure that journalists have the access, protections, and resources they need to report on my administration.”

Swalwell’s press access and transparency package includes:

  • Restoring the tradition of daily White House press briefings.
  • Holding at least one presidential press conference per month, plus occasional gaggles and availabilities.
  • Making White House visitor logs and presidential schedule publicly available in a timely way.
  • Urging Congress to pass a bill equivalent to Swalwell’s Journalist Protection Act (HR 1684), to make a federal crime of certain attacks on those reporting the news.
  • Ensuring every executive agency’s Freedom of Information Act office is fully funded and staffed, is fully complying with the spirit and letter of the law, and is reducing the existing backlog of requests. 
  • Working with Congress to pass a federal shield law establishing a statutory privilege protecting journalists from having to reveal confidential sources and ensuring that they can do their jobs without fear of imprisonment or intimidation.
Both before and since taking office, President Trump has treated the press as a personal and national adversary, calling the news media “the enemy of the American people,” and describing mainstream media outlets as “a stain on America.” He once tweeted a GIF video of himself body-slamming a person with the CNN logo superimposed on that person’s face, and retweeted a cartoon of a “Trump Train” running over a person with a CNN logo on its head.

In 2018, the international organization Reporters Without Borders dropped the United States’ ranking in its annual World Press Freedom Index by two points, to number 45 overall, citing President Trump’s bashing of the media; this year, the United States slipped three more points down to 48. “Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection,” the group wrote in its report.

Meanwhile, the Trump White House’s press briefings have become far rarer and shorter than those of earlier administrations – both a cause and a symptom of this President’s erratic messaging and policies.

“President Trump’s disdain for a free press isn’t #FakeNews – it’s very real, and a threat to all of our democratic institutions,” Swalwell said. “He thinks a free press is important only when it’s fawning over him, but dangerous when it criticizes him. I know it’s a cornerstone of America, and my presidency will protect and respect it regardless of how I’m covered.”

Swalwell will discuss the package during his remarks Friday at Dubuque County’s Law Day event; the theme of this year’s American Bar Association Law Day is “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.”

Read Swalwell’s CNN op-ed on the package here: http://www.cnn.com/2019/05/03/opinions/free-press-protection-2020-campaign-eric-swalwell/index.html