EPA's strongarm tactics with reporters bode ill for the environment and the First Amendment
If you define the planet as a small, somewhat insular coterie of journalists working a largely-neglected beat, then yes, this is a Shove Heard 'Round the Planet. (h/t, Ralph Waldo Emerson).
This week, the beleaguered EPA press staff went Full Soprano on an Associated Press reporter trying to attend a meeting. While some reporters were admitted to an agency briefing on PFAS—perfluorinated chemicals linked to cancer and present in many American water systems—others were blocked. Journalists from CNN and E&E News were told they could not enter, but AP's Ellen Knickmeyer was grabbed by security guards and shoved away from the room, according to Knickmeyer and witnesses.
EPA reversed course and phoned Knickmeyer to apologize, according to published reports. But how could any federal agency's professional staff could think that this was a smart tactic to begin with? It shows how big the gap is between the Administration of a man who says "everyone's talking about" his run at the Nobel Peace Prize and those of us in the Fake Media.
Will heads roll at EPA over this? Well, consider that Scott Pruitt's head is fully attached despite the ethical swamp he seems to have created with abandon.
My colleagues at the Society of Environmental Journalists emailed a letter to EPA, pointing out how "patently ridiculous" EPA's behavior was. Tucked into SEJ President Bobby Magill's letter was an ironic gem. EPA had explained that the room wasn't big enough to include all reporters—including some who say their requests for inclusion, by phone or email, were ignored.
"Surely, larger rooms were available at the EPA headquarters or in a nearby federal building or hotel."
It turns out the nearest hotel, barely more than a red-tie-length away from EPA's Pennsylvania Avenue HQ, is the Trump International Hotel. I get it. Nice one.
The bottom line on this one is fairly obvious, and was made by quite a few people this week: Contempt for the environment is a hallmark of the new EPA—revulsive to many, but not strictly unconstitutional. Contempt for a free press is contempt for the First Amendment, so there's some new ground being broken in Mr. Pruitt's neighborhood.
As President Trump might say, everyone's talking about it. At least in our community.
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