Tuesday, September 13, 2016

North Dakota Retaliating Against Journalist For Screwing Up Pipeline Project

Democracy Now! journalist
Amy Goodman faces a North
Dakota arrest warrant for
her work reporting on the
Dakota Access pipeline
protests earlier this month. 
Journalist Amy Goodman had a career highlight on an important story last week.

Goodman, executive producer of Democracy Now! on September 3 showed up  at Native-American protests agaist the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Native Americans were understandably upset about the pipeline disrupting burial grounds and threatening future contamination of their drinking water supply near the Standing Rock reservation.

The protests turned violent. The Native Americans stormed the construction site. Private security guards responded with attack dogs and pepper spray. Goodman and  her videographer got it all on video.

That video is rather shocking, with all the dogs and pepper spray and such. Clearly, the security people could have handled the protests much better than they did. The video is at the bottom of this post.

It was big and dramatic and really shined a light on what was going on in North Dakota. Goodman's video of the protests went viral, and such obscure media outlests like CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and Huffington Post rebroadcast Goodman's video.

Amid the swirl of media attention, the Obama administration ended up suspending the pipeline construction, pending further review.

Goodman got an amazing scoop, and like any good journalist, changed the course of events by exposing and effectively calling attention to an important public issue.

Naturally, pipeline advocates are annoyed with Goodman for her reporting. That's fine. Some of those pipeline advocates are in local government. In a chilling display of press intimidation, the Morton County, North Dakota sheriff's office has issued an arrest warrant on Goodman, accusing her of criminal trespass.

She was on pipeline property when she conducted interviews and filmed the scene. That's what journalists do, and in America are generally given wide berth when reporting major news events, even when they occur on private property.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said, "This arrest is a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from coverning protests of significant public interest.....Authorities in North Dakota should stop embarrasing themselves, drop the charges against Amy Goodman, and ensure that all reporters are free to do their jobs."

The Morton County sheriff's office is declining comment, says the Guardian.  However,  I see what's going on here. I doubt the Morton County sheriff's office or anyone else who'se after Goodman expects her to suffer much of any consequence from this.

But the arrest warrant is a shot across the bow, a warning to American media. Don't stick your nose in our business unless you want to deal with expensive litigation and other trouble. The clear message to the media is, "shut your mouths and look the other way."

Goodman is a classic muckraking journalist, an increasingly rare breed in American news media. She's an investigative journalist who does tend to go after The Powers That Be, and that ruffles a lot of feathers.

She's somewhat of an advocacy journalist, who tries to cover important issues that aren't getting much attention elsewhere. She comes at things from perhaps a liberal perspective, but she is very careful to get her facts right. She's got all the right journalistic chops.

I noticed no credible outfit is questioning Goodman's accuracy with her North Dakota reporting. They just don't like the fact she reported it. (Other national media wasn't there, but she thought it was an important story, and went there.)

Goodman will come out of this just fine. But we should all care what's happening. Lord knows the American news media is far from perfect.  Neither is the government, or private business, or any other organization. The cliche is light is the best disinfectant. Let the media continue to shine the line in dark places, and under the potentially corrupt darkness under all those rocks.

North Dakota officials need to drop the charges again Goodman now and move on.

Here is the video from Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! that the North Dakota authorities are not happy with:

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