Fall 2021 Silha Bulletin

Volume 27, Number 1

Fall 2021 Silha Bulletin

Below is the Table of Contents for the Fall 2021 edition of the Silha Bulletin. Click on the title to read the full article.

Download full text (pdf)

Cover Story: Lawsuit Seeks to Keep Records Secret Regarding Jan. 6, 2021 Insurrection
On Dec. 9, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied former President Donald Trump’s effort to block the release of some White House records sought by the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Committee).

WikiLeaks: Julian Assange Faces Extradition to United States Following United Kingdom Court Ruling
On Dec. 10, 2021, several media outlets reported that the High Court of Justice in London (UK) held that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States, reversing a January 2021 lower court ruling.

First Amendment: Project Veritas Raises Complicated First Amendment Issues
In fall 2021, James O’Keefe — a political activist who has drawn national attention for his publication of controversial hidden camera videos on his website, Project Veritas — was back in the spotlight after a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raid on his home.

Minnesota: Lawsuits, Court Rulings, and Other Developments in Minnesota Raise Important Media Law Questions and Problems
In the summer and fall of 2021, Minnesota faced multiple free speech and government transparency issues.

Access: COVID-19 Pandemic Continues to Affect Access to Courts
Nearly two years after the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, courts across the country continue to balance connecting interests of safety, public access, and privacy.

Ag-Gag Laws: Federal Courts Continue to Disagree on “Ag-Gag” Laws
Across the federal circuit courts, challenges to so-called “ag-gag” laws — laws limiting undercover recording at industrial farming operations — have seen mixed success.

Defamation: Courts Consider Defamation Lawsuits Involving Right-Wing Radio Host, Politician, and Election Technology Companies
Throughout 2021, plaintiffs in defamation lawsuits had mixed results in federal and state court.

Reporters in Danger: Journalists Face Attacks and Threats at Jan. 6, 2021 Insurrection, Prompting Arrests and Investigations; Capital Gazette Gunman Receives Maximum Sentence
During the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol building, protesters targeted and physically attacked several reporters, leading to arrests and other actions by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during a year in which the United States was ranked 44th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

Reporters in Danger: Journalists Face Chaos and Crisis in Afghanistan
When Taliban fighters took over Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021, all journalists remaining in Afghanistan were at extremely high risk of retaliation from the Taliban, whether they were foreign nationals who provided assistance to Western commercial media organizations, journalists with the U.S. Agency for Global Media, or Afghanistan’s own journalists.

Nobel Peace Prize: 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Two Journalists
On Oct. 8, 2021, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to two journalists — Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov of Russia — “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

Civil Rights: Federal Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss by Newspaper in Case Pitting Racial Discrimination and First Amendment Claims
On August 17, 2021, Federal District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan denied a motion by PG Publishing Company (PG Publishing), which operates the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to dismiss a civil rights case brought by one of its former reporters, Alexis Johnson, who now works for Vice News.

Ethics: Media Ethics Concerns Arise in Relation to Well-Known Media Figures
In 2021, the conduct of several high-profile journalists raised ethical questions, including becoming closely involved in ongoing events, withholding newsworthy information, and providing sources with access to and review of stories prior to publication.

Social Media: Florida and Texas Social Media “Censorship” Laws Blocked by Two Federal District Courts
In 2021, two laws in Florida and Texas ostensibly aimed at preserving free speech in social media were blocked by federal courts for violating the First Amendment and Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230.

Journalism Legislation: Federal and State Legislation Focus on Journalists, Newsgathering, and Local Media Outlets
In the second half of 2021, legislation introduced or passed at the federal and state levels was aimed at a variety of issues involving news media ownership and journalistic practices.

Silha Center Events: 36th Annual Silha Lecture Addresses Marketplace of Ideas Theory Amidst Political, Economic, Social, and Technological Changes
On Oct. 26, 2021, S. Jenell Trigg, the chair of Washington, D.C.-based law firm Lermen Senter PLLC’s Privacy, Data Security and E-Commerce practice, argued during the 36th Annual Silha Lecture that “we are currently in a debate regarding the importance and value of free speech and protecting democracy.. . .”