It's only been a handful of days since Donald Trump took office, but we're already getting strong signals about the sort of administration he intends to run: workers at US government agencies have been banned from making any public disclosures of the research they conduct at public expense until new political minders can be installed to ensure that these facts don't contradict Trump's official narrative; and six journalists have been charged with felonies for covering the protests during the inauguration.
The ban on public disclosures covers all "public-facing documents": "news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content." Government scientists must submit all upcoming appearances at conferences and meetings to the administration for approval. This echoes the tactics deployed by Canada's discredited Stephen Harper government, whose official climate denial stance was accompanied by a "war on science" that included suppression of publicly funded science and the shut-down of the world's largest scientific instrument: the Experimental Lakes Area.
A total of six media workers are facing 10 year prison sentences and fines of $25,000 after being arrested while covering the Trump inauguration, after being "indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone," according to the National Lawyers' Guild.
None of the arrest reports for the six journalists makes any specific allegations about what any of them are supposed to have done wrong. Keller’s report, which also covers the arrests of an unknown number of unidentified other people, includes a note that a police vehicle was vandalized. “I had absolutely nothing to do with the vandalism,” said Keller.
Reports on the arrests of five of the six journalists contain identical language alleging that “numerous crimes were occurring in police presence”. They state that windows were broken, fires were lit and vehicles were damaged. “The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot,” the police reports said.
The US attorney’s office for Washington DC, which is prosecuting those arrested, declined to comment on the journalists’ specific cases but said it was continuing to review evidence from the day with the police.
Four more journalists get felony charges after covering inauguration unrest [Jon Swaine/The Guardian]
Trump bans agencies from 'providing updates on social media or to reporters' [Jamiles Lartey/The Guardian]