First Amendment institute challenges CDC news media gag order

The Knight First Amendment Institute is suing under the Freedom of Information Act for all records of policies and procedures relating to the media gag order on all government officials including those with the Center for Disease Control. The gag order went into effect in late February when the Trump administration put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of all communications on the pandemic. (techdirt, April 9, 2020, by Mike Masnick)

In asking the CDC for the records, the institute’s Anna Diakun said, “We are very concerned by reports that the Trump administration has restricted what CDC employees can say and how they can say it. Public employees still have the right to speak as citizens on matters of public concern. These policies appear to sweep too broadly. If the policies are written as reports suggest, then they are indefensible and unconstitutional.” Critics have been concerned that for years journalists have not been allowed to meet CDC officials or anyone else in federal agencies unless a government censor or public information officer is present. (Quill, April 3, 2020, by Haisten Willis)

The administration loosened up last week when it reversed its decision to keep two public health officials from appearing on CNN as a punishment for not televising the part of the press briefings that included Pence and other members of the task force. (Deadline, April 9, 2020, by Ted Johnson)

For related FAC coverage, click here and here.