Rantz: AG Bob Ferguson is banning certain reporters from press conferences

Oct 24, 2022, 5:56 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2022, 9:48 am

Ferguson vaccine...

Washington AG Bob Ferguson’s office now requires media members to show proof of COVID vaccination and a booster if they wish to attend in-person press briefings. It is a clear threat to the free press. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is instituting a policy barring certain media members from attending press conferences. It is a clear threat to a free press. It’s just too bad the area’s left-wing media won’t protest.

Ferguson’s office now requires media members to show proof of COVID vaccination and a booster if they wish to attend in-person press briefings. Additionally, they must submit to a “wellness screening,” where they’re asked basic questions about whether or not they’re experiencing COVID symptoms. If you do not provide this private medical data to the government agency, you will be banned from attending events that are a necessary part of some media jobs. Instead, you’ll be pushed into remote accommodations, which don’t deliver the same access or ability to follow up with questions without being muted. This is intentional.

The policy is decidedly not based on science, perhaps explaining why Ferguson’s office did not respond to some basic questions. And it’s starting another slippery slope that media members are too ideological to understand.

Science denier Bob Ferguson stifling speech

A Ferguson spokesperson tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the policy “was made with our employees’ safety in mind as we reopened our office” and that it also applies to non-media visitors. But this has nothing to do with safety.

Neither the vaccine nor the booster stops the spread of COVID. This is well-established, widely understood, and not remotely controversial. And the CEO of Moderna acknowledges the booster is not necessary for most people. COVID is now like the flu; it’s been like that for a while. So why is this policy being enforced?

Ferguson, Democrat lawmakers, and Seattle media members see the vaccine as a status symbol. They think proving their status establishes them as some kind of pro-science hero in a sea of “dirty” anti-science Republicans. And it has the bonus, to them, of pushing out conservative media members who are either unvaccinated or refuse to give private medical information to a government agency to operate as a member of the free press. I fall into the latter camp, though in fairness, I don’t often attend any press conferences.

The policy’s legality is questionable, too. It might explain why the spokesperson did not respond to direct questions about the legal authority to establish vaccine passports for journalists.

Is this legal?

Seattle attorney Mark Lamb questions the policy’s legality.

“Public officials can’t ban reporters from public events based on their viewpoint. It appears the Attorney General’s outdated policy has little to do with preventing COVID and everything to do with avoiding tough questions. The issue is whether or not Ferguson’s general ban on the unvaccinated is legally tenable given that we now know the vaccine doesn’t stop transmission and the upcoming end of the remaining emergency orders on October 31st,” Lamb tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Ferguson thinks it’s mostly conservatives who won’t get vaccinated or reveal their private medical data. This AG is hostile to conservatives and conservative media. It’s why he doesn’t stray from friendly, left-wing media. You’re not supposed to call out Ferguson. And being challenged or proven wrong by conservatives would not bode well for his future run for Governor.

Lamb suspects this policy is motivated by the desire to avoid “hostile questions, [and] he prefers a tightly controlled environment.”

“In an in-person meeting, a journalist can follow-up and cannot be ‘muted’ or kicked-out by the online moderator. The moderator is of course the taxpayer-funded press flack for Bob Ferguson. Again, the case law is clear, if it is viewpoint-based the AG cannot ban in-person attendance from journalists he disfavors,” Lamb said.

He noted the irony of this decision from an AG “who lectures others on ‘following the science’ [while] ignoring it because it allows him to even more tightly control the limited questioning he is subject to.”

Media outlets should protest this mandate. But will they? Don’t hold your breath.

Media outlets will likely give in

It’s one thing to be asked if you have COVID symptoms before entering a press briefing. That’s reasonable and unintrusive. But it’s completely different to demand private medical data before being allowed to provide government oversite as a media member. It’s not a free press if you’re barred from attending press briefings, where you can push for answers to questions, for not disclosing medical information.

If a politician barred journalists who did get the vaccine from attending a press briefing to make a point, would local outlets acquiesce or would they push back? Both policies result in the exact same outcome as far as the risk of spreading COVID. Neither are more or less likely to spread the virus. But the outlets would go into critical overdrive. And that exposes the media bias.

No matter the TV or radio station, newspaper, or magazine, this market is full of left-wing reporters. Some are reasonable and check their bias; some others do not. But when it comes to the COVID vaccine, despite all the data, media members still refuse to be honest.

The slippery slope

For some reporters, they’re blinded by their ideology and their need to be seen as on the ‘right side’ of the issue by an equally ideological and ignorant left-wing audience. This despite these very reporters getting the vaccine and booster, then catching COVID for a second time. This doesn’t serve as a wakeup call for them. They still pretend this is how normal vaccines work.

For others, it’s because they’ll lose credibility when they admit what they told their audience was wrong. I’d argue that will gain them credibility, not lose them any. Being honest about what we now know isn’t something to be afraid of.

Either way, it’s alarming the media can’t see the dangers of this slippery slope. But at some point, it will catch up to them and they’ll regret staying quiet when they should have spoken out.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: AG Bob Ferguson is banning certain reporters from press conferences