A photo journalist whose works have appeared in CNN, Rolling Stone, Politico and other news publications has filed suit against the January 6 committee, arguing that the committee’s subpoena for her telephone records is a violation of a journalist’s First Amendment rights, according to Politico.
“Documents attached to the suit show that last month the House panel subpoenaed Harris’ cell phone provider, Verizon Wireless, for details on calls and texts she made or received during a three-month period ending Jan. 31,” said Politico.
The Washington Post reported that photos Harris took from Jan.6 2020 were published in the Post, the Guardian and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Several months prior to the protests at the Capitol, Harris had been photographing the conservative, pro-Trump group the Proud Boys with their cooperation.
— NPPA (@NPPA) December 15, 2021
“Demanding journalists’ telephone records that reveal confidential sources from third parties is tantamount to demanding the records from the journalists themselves,” her complaint argues, according to the Washington Post. “A journalist’s promise to maintain confidentiality would be meaningless if a source’s identity could be discovered”.
Spokesman for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) said that the subpoena request by the January 6 committee was “misguided,” reported the Hill.
‘[W]e believe it is misguided for members to subpoena the phone records of a visual journalist who risked her health and safety to report on and photograph protests on both sides of the political spectrum,” Akili-Casundria Ramsess, executive director of the NPPA, said in a statement according to the Hill.
“Such actions have a chilling effect upon the core First Amendment values critical to the democratic principles the Committee was established to protect and we hope they will seriously reconsider their position in this matter,” Ramsess added.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also weighed in with a letter to the committee members– a committee stacked with Democrats who often talk as if “democracy” is threatened by the existence of the GOP.
“Constitutional protections for newsgathering reflect the reality, well known to the framers, that the press itself preserves democratic governance by promoting an informed electorate,” said the letter.