Friday, August 11, 2023

YouTube Personalities Challenge DOJ Gag Order in Defense of Free Press Rights


In a landmark case highlighting the shifting dynamics between mainstream and independent digital journalism, a consortium of YouTube influencers, boasting a viewership that rivals major news channels, have presented an amicus curiae brief in a U.S. District Court in Florida.

Listed YouTube Personalities:

- Eric Blandford – “Iraqveteran8888

- Paul Glasco – “Legally Armed America

- Jared Yanis – “Guns and Gadgets 2nd Amendment News

... [list continues] ...

These YouTubers are rallying behind AmmoLand News journalist John Crump’s urgent motion against a U.S. Attorney's attempt to stifle free press

Central to this case is Crump’s challenge against the government’s motion to restrict the distribution of a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). Beneath this legal terminology lies a broader debate: the definition of “press” in the modern, digital era.

An amicus curiae, or “friends of the court,” typically comprises individuals who, while not directly involved in a case, possess pertinent knowledge that can inform the court’s decisions. This YouTube consortium, which comprises independent videographers covering topics like the Second Amendment and government oversight, boasts an expansive audience that reportedly surpasses that of top news channels during primetime.

The essence of the case? The government's seeming effort to marginalize independent digital reporters, especially those on YouTube. Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Laura Cofer Taylor’s dismissive label of them as “YouTube Personalities” accentuates this sentiment. 

The brief contends that the First Amendment’s free press protection isn’t exclusive to traditional media outlets. Instead, it extends to anyone disseminating information, reflecting the evolving landscape where traditional journalists and citizen reporters are often indistinguishable.

**First Amendment Face-off**

The brief also references prior cases, emphasizing that the First Amendment safeguards not only expression but also the public's right to access information. As the media realm changes, discerning between a private individual and a journalist becomes ambiguous. Often, significant news stories are sourced from ordinary citizens with smartphones, rather than conventional media teams. This shift solidifies the argument that First Amendment rights shouldn't hinge on one's official status, credentials, or the validation of any Assistant United States Attorney.

John Crump is central to this narrative. Although he disseminates some of his pieces on platforms like YouTube, he has a deep-rooted association with AmmoLand News, penning over 800 articles since early 2015. The brief strongly affirms his standing as an established journalist. His investigative pieces have been cited in Congress, and he's been a recurrent feature on the One America News Network and Townhall Media’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co.

Ultimately, this isn't merely a legal tussle between a journalist and an overzealous Attorney. It mirrors the metamorphosis in journalism's realm. The case's outcome could potentially reinforce the notion that in today's interconnected world, the public, in many ways, embodies the press. 

US v Ervin Amicus: Eric Blandford, Et. Al., Supporting John Crump’s Urgent Intervention Motion.

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