June 7, 2017 (Miami) – The Knight First Amendment Institute has sent a letter to the White House demanding that the President provide open and public access to his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account and restore access to critics and journalists who he has blocked. As champions for transparency, we of the Fourth Estate, an organization dedicated to public interest journalism and a vibrant free press, stand with the Knight First Amendment Institute on this issue.
We believe that access to the President’s communications, including his social media accounts, should be free and open to all.
If President Trump feels his message is being diluted by the mainstream media, then it is his right to get the “unfiltered message” out to the people he governs. Likewise, it is the right of everyone he governs, regardless of their opinions, to view those messages and contribute to the conversation. Criticism of government officials is a fundamental part of our democracy in which he has himself partaken, and access to information follows shortly behind it. Denying that access is chilling in its effect on democracy.
President Trump must realize his actions are violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution and return visibility and access to all who want it. Only with freedom of information presented by all sources can we be an open and knowledgeable society.
In order to remedy this injustice, and his subsequent violation of the First Amendment, President Trump must unblock the accounts of Twitter users that he has denied access and never block any accounts in the future. That is the very essence of the letter sent by the Knight First Amendment Institute to the White House on Tuesday.
President Trump’s Twitter account, as a means for his official communications, is now considered a “designated public forum.” President Trump’s decision to arbitrarily limit access to a “designated public forum” is considered a First Amendment rights violation and must be reversed, immediately.
In the end, a free press can only exist in an environment where information is open and available to all, not only those who the government decides may access it.
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