Democratic Gov. Tony Evers granted an interview to Fox 11 on Sunday in which he stated the MacIver News Service is granted equal access to his administration’s press notifications.
The claim runs contrary to the defense mounted by the governor’s own attorney general, who defended the administration’s restrictions on MacIver reporters, claiming MacIver isn’t a legitimate news agency, an attorney representing MacIver in a lawsuit against Evers said Friday.
The lawsuit was filed after MacIver reporters were denied entrance to a press briefing by Evers and his administration’s subsequent blackout of press releases for the news agency.
As reported by The Center Square in August, the lawsuit claims Evers violated MacIver journalists’ First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of the press and equal access by excluding them from news briefings and refusing to send them news releases.
“Gov. Evers should not block MacIver journalists from public press briefings and limit their access to government activities,” Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute, said in a news release last August. “Our reporters have the same constitutional rights as every other journalist in Wisconsin, and we have a duty to keep the public informed about what’s happening in state government.”
“Gov. Evers’ public statements do not match his legal team’s arguments,” Daniel Suhr, an attorney for the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center, which is representing MacIver News Service, stated in a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.
For his part, Kaul defended Evers last September when he asserted the governor doesn’t have to answer questions from anyone other than “bona fide” journalists. Kaul said Evers’ administration can exclude groups if he doesn’t consider them real news organizations.
MacIver, which operates as a news agency under the auspices of the free-market MacIver Institute, wants to be able to attend press briefings.
“Despite the governor’s claims, his administration blocks legitimate news organizations from receiving media information and attending press briefings,” Suhr said. “His lawyers argue that reporters can be barred from asking questions, removed from media lists and even labeled as political advocates and lobbyists if the governor disagrees with them. It’s time for Gov. Evers and his lawyers to get on the same page in support of the First Amendment.”
Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News. Reposted with permission.