Deputy Economic Policy Editor, ThinkProgress. Poverty, criminal-justice profiteering, police violence, & robber barons. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
A reporter has been arrested for pressing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to say whether or not the Trump health care bill would make it harder for domestic violence survivors to obtain insurance.
West Virginia police arrested Dan Heyman at the state capitol Tuesday as he walked with Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, holding a recorder out and asking Price repeatedly about claims that insurers could refuse to serve survivors of familial abuse. That claim is based on inference from the bill’s provision allowing states to abandon consumer protections from Obamacare with federal permission.
Heyman had sought out Price on his way into the capitol.“At some point, I think [they] decided I was too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job, so they arrested me,” Heyman told West Virginia Metro News. Heyman was later charged with “willful disruption of a governmental process,” according to the news service.
A police report justifying the charge said the reporter “was aggressively breaching the Secret Service agents” and “causing a disturbance by yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price,” the West Virginia Metro News reported. Heyman was only released after someone from his news agency posted a $5,000 bond. He faces a $100 fine and up to six months in jail under state law.
Heyman’s arrest is the most dramatic recent illustration of the chilling effect President Donald Trump’s election has had on the news business, but it is not the first.
The traveling press corps who followed Trump’s campaign were frequently turned into a side show at his rallies, kept inside a tight and prominently placed cordon where Trump himself would typically point them out as enemies to his supporters. He also occasionally remarked that America should “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue reporters who enjoy First Amendment protections.