Yesterday I reported on the federal assistant attorney who filed a brief seeking to suppress the reporting on a criminal case she was prosecuting. Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor wants to see that reporting conducted by journalists John Crump and Richard Hughes is taken down and any copies of a document they legally acquired are destroyed. Taylor makes several base acquisitions in her brief, one of which insinuates that Crump and Hughes are not journalists working in the capacity as professional journalists, but rather undercuts them by simply stating they are “YouTube personalities.” Several so-called “YouTube personalities,” aKa internet video journalists, took exception to this attack on their colleagues and have filed an amicus brief admonishing the chilling and immature/sophomoric knee-jerk by Laura Cofer Taylor.
Taylor was unhappy that Crump and Hughes reported on a document given to them by the defendant in a case she was prosecuting. The case, the “Autokey card,” “machine gun” case, is a fumbled up mess to begin with, and how they ended up at the sentencing phase in the trial might have to do with instructions Taylor gave to the jury stating that the Autokey is a machine gun.
There’s a lot of baggage concerning the case itself and I suspect that’s why Taylor wants to suppress as much information as possible. Crump and Hughes legally obtained copies of defendant Hoover’s presentence investigation report. Taylor moved to have Crump and Hughes silenced, as well as their work removed from existence.
On August 10, 2023 the amicus brief in support of Crump and Hughes’ crusade for Free Speech was filed and notes:
These individuals are independent journalists who have joined together and who, like John Crump, are engaged in the essential task of gathering and dissemination of information on various topics of importance to the public. To wit, each of them reports on issues related to the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and/or government misconduct and have an army of viewers who rely upon them to ferret out government impropriety. Collectively Amici have over ten million subscribers and nearly three and a half billion views. The three major news networks’ combined primetime viewership is less than four million.2
The brief stunningly distills exactly what big media and the powerbrokers of the world are afraid of. Taylor’s applying to censor and be dismissive of Crump and Hughes is a canary in the coal mine. If the federal government is able to discredit these two journalists and not extend to them the same label – and by extension legal protections – as other journalists, then they’ll be able to do the same to others.
The implacable wall of power – of the people and real journalists – that Taylor, et.al. are staring at is best exemplified by the fact that these types of journalists are way more popular than the operation mockingbird garbage being fed to us by mainstream media.
Looking at the brief, the following professional internet video journalists have signed up to be amici:
- Eric Blandford – “Iraqveteran8888”
- Paul Glasco – “Legally Armed America”
- Jared Yanis – “Guns and Gadgets 2nd Amendment News”
- Hank Strange- @hankstrange
- Patrick James – “Baby Face P”
- Tim Harmsen – “Military Arms Channel”
- Clint Morgan – ClassicFirearms
- John Mullally – “KB32 Tactical”
- Micah Young – “2a Edu”
- John Correia – “Active Self Protection”
- Mark Davis – “DLD After Dark”
- Kenneth Graham – “Marine Gun Builder”
- Scott Wilson – “Drop It Like It’s Scott”
- Curtis Hallstrom-“VSO Gun Channel”
- Mark Dickinson-“James Madison Audits”
- Joel Persinger- “GunGuyTV”
- John Keys and Shermichael Singleton- “GunsOutTV”
It terrifies the powers that be that normal, everyday citizens, have the equipment, abilities, and power to become journalists with more credibility than the state sponsored news aggregates. All people have to do is do what the amici have done for years; conduct the research, put in the work, and build a base. These “YouTubers” are more trusted news sources than any of the big networks.
The amicus brief highlights the crux of these fears of allowing freedom of a press not controlled:
Therefore, “Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves as a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting ‘the free discussion of governmental affairs’” Mills v.Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218, 86 S.Ct. 1434, 16 L.Ed.2d 484 (1966). Moreover, as the Supreme Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’” First Nat’l Bank, 435 U.S. at 777 n.11, 98 S.Ct. 1407
Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor’s attempt to silence two journalists, not wanting to draw attention to her sloppy case – which, in my opinion will be reversed on appeal, has put a giant spotlight not only on her, but also the government’s view on the 21st century journalist.
I reached out to Eric Friday, the attorney who filed the amicus brief, and his comment does go to the core, “If the government’s not doing anything wrong, then the government has nothing to hide.”
Friend and colleague Fredy Riehl, the Editor in Chief at AmmoLand News zeroed in on this giant First Amendment battle that’s playing out before our eyes. “This case represents more than just a legal dispute between a reporter and an Assistant United States Attorney with hurt feelings,” Riehl observed. “It’s a reflection of the ongoing evolution in the world of journalism. The outcome could set a precedent, reinforcing the idea that in the age of the internet, ‘we the people’ indeed are the press.”
It’s impossible to safeguard the Second Amendment without robust First Amendment protections. The work that gets done by journalists like Crump, Hughes, and the amici listed in the brief, is pivotal in keeping people informed on what’s happening concerning gun rights. The Second Amendment and firearms are not en vogue topics for the mainstream media, and beyond that, the consumption of this information, while in high demand, does not appeal to the tastes of everyone.
Independent, freelance, and alternative means of disseminating information is how people are better able to get educated on a topic that is under-reported on. When the Second Amendment is reported on, the “journalism” is generally full of editorializing, mistruths, lies, and is purposefully misleading – as well as funded by pinko astroturf groups grifting off an ideology. Those in “charge” don’t want the reporting that the likes of Crump puts out.
We’re marching into uncharted territories and thankfully we have real journalists that are willing to put their names on the line. We can see how closely both the First and Second Amendments rely on each other, just as “we the people” rely on quality reporting on these topics. I tip my hat to Crump and Hughes for not backing down, and to the journalists who have signed up on this amicus brief, standing by their colleagues and countrymen.
We’ll be following the progress of this important national news story and be reporting back with any updates as they may arise.