Dear Sen. Dodd:
As chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, you oversee the Senate Press Gallery and the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which, in turn, decides which journalists are accredited to cover the Capitol.
I write to bring to your attention an egregious abuse of the First Amendment by your charges on this committee.
For more than 18 months, the committee and its staff have made it clear there is a double standard at work with regard to the criteria used to evaluate my news organization’s application for accreditation. We have been stonewalled. We have been insulted. We have been held up for ridicule. We have been asked to do things no other news organization has ever been asked to do. We have answered every question and accusation – no matter how ludicrous. We have rebutted every false accusation and corrected every misrepresentation. Yet, WorldNetDaily.com Inc., the Internet’s leading independent newssite, with more than 2.5 million unique visitors a month, has still been denied the same unfettered access to the Capitol currently afforded foreign “news organizations” that are little more than fronts for hostile totalitarian governments.
I know you are busy, senator. So am I. I have better things to do with my time than to spend 18 months procuring the basic accreditation necessary for my experienced, veteran reporters to do their jobs serving as watchdogs of the U.S. government. I have been doing what I do for more than 25 years, a tenure longer and with more professional accomplishments in the daily newspaper business than any of the journalists on the committee that does your bidding, in your name, with your budget, on your letterhead and in your offices.
WorldNetDaily is not only a news organization, it is a business. We have employees who depend on us for their paychecks. We must compete in a very tough environment – an environment that has proved more than challenging for thousands of other Internet companies that have not survived as long as WorldNetDaily. We find ourselves at a distinct disadvantage thanks to the reckless and irresponsible behavior of the Standing Committee of Correspondents and, by extension, the U.S. Senate. We are being prevented from doing our jobs. Our competitors are not being similarly blocked, nor are they asked to play by the same ever-changing, arbitrary rules.
Perhaps you don’t know how the Standing Committee of Correspondents is misusing its authority, perverting the First Amendment, making up accreditation rules as it goes along, acting on applications without notice, banning reporters from the Capitol without due process. That’s why I write this letter. After I send it, you will have no more excuses. If you permit these abuses to continue, you, too, will be complicit in the unconstitutional injustices taking place in your name and in the name of the Senate Rules Committee.
The Standing Committee of Correspondents, under the chairmanship of William Roberts, is making a mockery of fair play and equal justice under the law. I urge you to overturn its invalid decisions – rulings affecting our very ability to compete in the arena of the media marketplace and Kafkaesque rulings made without public hearings, without notice, without minutes, without, according to Roberts, even a recorded vote by the committee.
This may seem like an unimportant matter to you, as you consider issues of war and peace and legislation authorizing the expenditure of billions of dollars, but it is a deadly serious issue for us and a grave constitutional issue for the U.S. Senate, which, like it or not, presides over the Standing Committee of Correspondents and provides the committee its authority.
I suspect you have a staff member who serves as a liaison with the Standing Committee of Correspondents and the Senate Press Gallery. If you take my letter seriously, let me offer to brief that aide on this controversy so it can be resolved expeditiously. We have waited too long already for our basic constitutional rights as American journalists to be acknowledged and respected.
Chief Executive Officer and Editor
Contacts for Senate Rules Committee and its chairman
and ranking minority member are as follows: