Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) reintroduced legislation aimed at protecting journalists on Tuesday, and was quickly accused of hypocrisy by a reporter he threatened just a month ago.
What are the details?
Menendez co-authored the Journalist Protection Act with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). The act would make it a federal crime to "intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the course of reporting or in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering for a media organization," Fox News reported. The legislation was originally proposed in February 2018.
While promoting the bill's second rollout on Twitter, Menendez criticized President Donald Trump's "dangerous rhetoric" against the media before declaring, "We must work to make gov't more transparent and to protect the journalists dedicated to holding those in power accountable."
Despite the Trump Admin’s dangerous rhetoric, a free press will NEVER be the enemy of the people. In the spirit of… https://t.co/jnddYfZ86y— Senator Bob Menendez (@Senator Bob Menendez)1552422631.0
Capitol Hill reporter Henry Rodgers — who Menendez threatened last month — seized the opportunity to call out the senator for hypocrisy and ask whether he was protected under the act, too.
Remember that time you threatened to call the police on me for asking you if you would vote for the Green New Deal… https://t.co/1Bf2J728WP— Henry Rodgers (@Henry Rodgers)1552428938.0
Rodgers works for right-leaning outlet The Daily Caller. He approached Menendez in February to get the senator's take on the Green New Deal. The New Jersey Democrat refused to answer the journalist, called his publication "trash," and threatened to call the police on Rodgers for "harassing" him.
In a statement published by The Daily Caller on Tuesday, Rodgers said, "If Sen. Menendez is so interested in protecting the rights of journalists, why did he threaten to call the police on me just a month ago, for asking a simple question about the Green New Deal? He called my organization 'trash' and told me he would call Capitol Police on me if I continued to ask him questions."
Menendez and The Daily Caller have a history. In 2012, the publication was first to report on allegations that the senator had solicited underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic along with a wealthy donor. Then, in 2015, The Caller broke the story that the Department of Justice had discovered "corroborating evidence" in the case.
Sen. Menendez was charged with bribery, and his trial resulted in a hung jury. Thereafter, the DOJ dropped its corruption charges against him.