Empower Wisconsin | Sept. 30, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — When the White House suspended grandstanding Jim Acosta’s press pass, the mainstream media went ballistic.
The national press instantly came to the aid of CNN’s chief White House correspondent, claiming the White House had committed the worst assault on freedom of the press in the history of the Republic.
When Wisconsin legislative Republican leaders tried to close media access to some open records a few years ago, the media blasted the move — liberal and conservative outlets alike.
But as a Wisconsin conservative news organization fights for its First Amendment rights, well, crickets.
MacIver News Service took Gov. Tony Evers to court for, among other alleged violations, banning MacIver’s reporters from attending the governor’s budget briefing with reporters earlier this year. The Democrat and his attorney, Attorney General Josh Kaul, also a Democrat, claim MacIver isn’t a “bona fide” news organization based on some curious standards the governor’s office suddenly came up with.
It matters little to Evers that MacIver has been a credentialed member of the Capitol press corps for years. Apparently, it matters little to the journalists who have for years, worked alongside MacIver reporters covering budgets, policies, hearings and all manner of state government activity.
Few in the news media community spoke out about Evers’ press team’s barring of MacIver. Several outlets reported on MacIver’s federal lawsuit, but only Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council took a stand in defense of the news organization.
“The contrast I draw is the Jim Acosta case, where his credentials were pulled,” said Daniel Suhr, a public interest attorney representing MacIver in its lawsuit. “All of the major news organizations, the New York Times, the Washington Post, had an amicus brief supporting his case. And in Wisconsin the editorial boards are good about writing about these topics. Thus far we haven’t seen a lot of coverage yet.”
Suhr said the good news is there’s still time.
“We would welcome organizations and individual outlets to stand with us in this fight because, ultimately, this is a fight for the First Amendment.”
So far, deafening silence from the great defenders of freedom of the press.