An Open Letter to Jack McElroy

Dear Jack,

You are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong, wrong, wrong. And someday one of your reporters may need you to take the State of Tennessee to school, so you need to get right on this.

But so what if Meador was a reporter? The First Amendment protects press freedom, but it doesn’t grant journalists any rights beyond those of other citizens. In fact, in this day of blogs and cellphone cameras, it’s hard to say what actually constitutes a reporter. An employee of an established media outlet may carry a press card and ID badge, but that shouldn’t make him or her any more legitimate in the eyes of the law than a self-published scribe.

Here’s the “so what” you’re missing. Meador was, in fact, cited for being drunk, so drunk that he “appeared to be intoxicated and unable to care for himself.” And that’s when he produced the video he took of his arrest in which no officer makes any mention of his alleged drunkeness. In fact, they’re discussing charging him with resisting arrest. How one resists arrest by falling when knocked to the ground by the THP, I surely don’t know.

But the issue, the important issue, here is not just that he identified himself as a member of the media–which I say is still an important and meaningful thing and that the THP ought not to be arresting reporters who are trying to cover a story the State is making efforts to literally hide in the middle of the night–but that not only did they appear to decide to make up a charge of resisting arrest, they made up that he “appeared to be intoxicated and unable to care for himself.” (Again, the State’s words, not mine).

Jack, they did this after they knew he was a reporter. After they knew he was a reporter, they made up things to charge him with and then falsely accused him of being so drunk that he couldn’t care for himself in order to discredit him. That wasn’t just about trying to jack Meador up as a person, though that would certainly be wrong. That was about trying to discredit Meador as a journalist–accusing him of being so drunk on the job that he needed to be arrested. Certainly, that was about not only trying to discredit anything he might say about his arrest as a citizen, but also anything he might report about his and others’ arrests as a journalist.

If you think the issue is just that they arrested a journalist, you are wrong. It’s that they arrested a journalist AND then, once they knew he was a journalist, they seem to have deliberately set out to fuck him over.

That should give you great pause.



2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Jack McElroy

  1. Pretty much exactly this. Agents of the state are trying to tell a different story than the one that is happening, in so many ways. Try to discredit a reporter in one place, shut down the live feeds right before letting loose with tear gas in another. This is why people all over the world have started live-blogging their protests, which our media so gleefully showed us with the intent of generating sympathy for various movements in other countries…but which they help hide from us about our own.

    McElroy and his ilk have sided with the state over the truth in a situation where the state has demonstrated great willingness to sacrifice the truth for control.

  2. Betsy, I frequently disagree with you, but I think you a dead on in this response to Jack. If the press is subjected to arrest while covering news events then how is the public ever suppose to know what is happening.

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