October 24, 2019 at 6:47 pm PST | by Adam Schiff
We need press freedom
press freedom, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) defended press freedom in congratulatory video for Washington Blade’s 50th anniversary gala.

(Editor’s note: Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents California’s 28th congressional district from Burbank to West Hollywood, is the man of the hour for what seems like 24 hours, seven days a week as chair of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead inquisitor of witnesses testifying in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. As with grand jury testimony, witness depositions are taken in secret — in this case with questions asked by committee Democrats and Republicans looking into Trump’s phone call admission that he withheld congressionally-appropriated arms and funds to Ukraine until the new president of that country agreed to dig up dirt on Trump’s anticipated 2020 rival, Joe Biden and his son Hunter, to help with Trump’s re-election campaign.

Abusing the office of the presidency for personal gain is apparently the focus right now of possible articles of impeachment. Whether Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, restricts the inquiry to Ukraine or expands it to include violations of the Emoluments Clause or other high crimes and misdemeanors remains to be seen. For stepping up and seriously doing his Constitutional duty, Schiff has been repeatedly threatened, harassed and excoriated by Trump, his supporters and Trump’s minions in the media who place loyalty to Trump over honestly informing the public.
On Tuesday, two dozen conservative Republicans barged into the secure congressional office suite to disrupt testimony, claiming the press should be allowed in, too. The stunt fooled no one since Democrats already promised to hold open hearings and make complete testimony transcripts public, minus classified information.

Remarkably, in the midst of this ongoing historical moment, Schiff — whose district includes the Los Angeles Blade — took time out to record a video congratulating the Washington Blade on 50 years of serving the LGBT community. While his edited video was applauded enthusiastically at the Blade’s Oct. 18 gala, his message on the importance of press freedom is critical for a larger audience to absorb. Here is a transcript of Schiff’s full message.)

Good evening. I’m Congressman Adam Schiff and I proudly represent California’s 28th congressional district.

I’m sorry that I can’t be with you tonight, but I wanted to extend my congratulations to the Washington Blade on your 50th anniversary. For half a century now, the Blade has been an incredible resource for the whole country.

Supporting quality journalism has always been a priority for me. Years ago, I founded the Press Freedom Caucus, a bipartisan caucus dedicated to promoting international press freedom and speaking out for journalists overseas who face detention or even death for their work.
And journalists in many nations still face immense dangers just for doing their jobs while autocrats the world over seek to reign in or silence independent voices that can hold the powerful to account.

Press freedom is under threat around the world but it’s deeply distressing to see here at home the President and his allies adopt the same rhetoric we’re accustomed to seeing in dictators.

It shouldn’t be controversial or partisan to say that say that journalists aren’t the enemy of the people and just because the President doesn’t like a story, doesn’t mean it’s fake.

The truth is we need good journalism now more than ever. We’re already in a world of ‘alternate facts’ and I am concerned it could get even worse. The advent of artificial intelligence has enabled the creation of realistic “deep fakes,” machine created photos and videos that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.

I worry how technologies like this could be used by foreign or domestic adversaries and whether we’re truly prepared and whether the idea of the truth is crumbling.

But I do know that the best antidote — maybe even the only antidote — is the fearless and important work of journalists like all of you at the Washington Blade. So once again, thank you for all you do and here’s to another 50 years of incredible success.

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