Wendy Davis Filibuster: Texas Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Suggests Imprisoning Journalists For "People's Filibuster"
Following the now-infamous filibuster by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis regarding the pro-life statutes in Senate Bill 5, pro-choice activists engaged in an attempt to disrupt the chamber. The so-called "People's Filibuster" caused a disturbance in the chamber for roughly 30 minutes following the 11-hour filibuster by Davis. This caused the vote to be so close that there was a controversy regarding the time and date stamp on the bill following its passage. According to Leuitenant Governor Dewhurst's interview with Hot Air, he was under the impression that journalists on the Senate Floor were waving on the crowd to continue, a violation of both journalistic integrity and the rules of the Senate — a violation which, as stated by Dewhurst, could end up in 48 hours imprisonment. Dewhurst is wrong to threaten imprisonment when if these reporters were guilty they can have their credentials stripped.
The quote from Dewhurst during the interview in its entirety reads:
"We have reports and I have my staff taking a look at the video, the internet video that we keep, we store, on the proceedings that evening and if I find as I've been told examples of the media waving and trying to inflame the crowd, incite them in the direction of a riot, I'm going to take action against them. That is wrong. That's inciting a riot. That is wrong. And we have a provision in our rules that if people do not deport themselves with decorum, they're not respectful of the legislative process, one of our rules says we can imprison them up to 48 hours. Of course that was out of the question with that many people, but it is, we take a democratic policy seriously."
As you would imagine, the overreaction by Dewhurst has not been well-received in the journalistic community. Whenever their community is threatened, it turns up the scrutiny on whatever politician challenges the Fourth Estate. We've seen that this year as Chuck Todd upped his criticism of President Obama following the AP scandal. It is unsurprising that Dewhurst has walked back his comments following his staff reviewing the film and concluding the cries that the journalists waved on the "People's Filibuster" was incorrect. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done to Dewhurst's reputation.
Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst owes the media an apology for his threats toward them. While I do believe Dewhurst made these statements based on what he had heard from other individuals, I don't believe he chose the right course of action. If these kind of things should happen in the Senate, I would suggest that if the journalist is going to act like an activist that they remove their credentials. But as long as they act with journalistic integrity as they did that night, they had better be left alone. This is one of the least Texan things I could have imagined coming from Dewhurst. No state protects the ideas of personal responsibility and liberty like Texas. So not only has Dewhurst turned his back on the principle of a free press, but also to the ideas so many Texans hold so very dearly.