As if journalists don’t already face criticism and obstacles in trying to do their jobs on a daily basis, now the insurrectionists that rioted the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6 are trying to claim they were only doing a job.
Despite creating a trove of self-incriminating evidence, as they documented their actions and words in videos, which they posted to social media sites, some involved in the insurrection are claiming they were only there to “record history as journalists, not to join a deadly insurrection.”
Sure they were. It seems they’re out of excuses and are only trying to save themselves from punishment, instead of facing the consequences and taking responsibility for their actions.
During the Trump administration, journalists faced criticism from the president and some of his supporters on a regular basis. His favorite term was “fake news,” which he used ad nauseam, whenever he didn’t like something that was written about him. As much as we hate to revisit those ugly years, it’s not something that’s simply gone away because he’s not in office anymore.
Now we have a group of people claiming to be journalists. With the definition of a journalist blurred because of the Internet, and the fact that just about anyone can claim to be a journalist if they have a blog or a website, they are probably hoping to avoid serious punishment for their actions.
However, according to an Associated Press report, “some rioters manhandled and menaced the reporters and photographers who are credentialed to cover Congress and were trying to cover the mayhem that day. A group of AP journalists had photographic equipment stolen and destroyed outside the building.”
Normally, a journalist that works for a legitimate news source will have credentials issued by either their employer or an outside agency, allowing them access to certain areas and identifying them as working journalist.
This separates them from bloggers, Internet videographers and social media personalities. It should be pretty easy to sort through and weed out the “fake” journalists.
“One defendant, Shawn Witzemann of Farmington, New Mexico, told authorities he was inside the Capitol during the riot as part of his work in livestreaming video at protests and has since argued that he was there as a journalist,” the AP story said. “The explanation did not sway the FBI. He is charged with joining in demonstrating in the Capitol while Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump.”
We hope they don’t get away with such a lame excuse. They should take responsibility for their actions.