Senator Kirsten Gillibrand claimed at a campaign stop that she is a great defender of a free press — until she was questioned about the arrest of award-winning publisher Julian Assange.
The Democratic presidential candidate was happy to chat with activist and director Rod Webber about the importance of a free press when it was about President Trump and how he briefly banned CNN’s Jim Acosta from the White House. When the conversation turned to an actual persecuted journalist, her tune changed dramatically.
Gillibrand initially responded to a question about the danger of extraditing foreign journalists for publishing leaked materials by fear-mongering about Russians. She said that she has vowed not to use stolen materials as part of her campaign and urged others to do the same. Apparently, in her view, factual information and transparency is some great threat to democracy.
“I believe fundamentally in freedom of the press,” Gillibrand claimed. “I think we always need a fair and free press and we always have to guard against the overreach of President Trump and his administration to stifle the press. When he excludes members of the press from the White House briefings, it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong, and I will not do that as president.”
Webber responded by turning back to Assange and asking if she believes it is fair for the US to be “reaching across the ocean” to arrest someone for doing the same thing that the New York Times or any other reporters do.
“I don’t know that that’s true,” Gillibrand said, beginning to appear flustered. She then went into ridiculous talking points about Mueller and the Russian government — essentially ignoring the actual question.
Webber reminded the senator that Mueller never even spoke to Assange during the investigation. At this point her staff became fed up with the uncomfortable line of questioning and began to demand that she had already answered the question.
Gillibrand eventually claimed that there needs to be more investigations because she wants more information. It is unclear if she also wants BuzzFeed investigated for their role in peddling the fake Trump dossier.