Calls for violence against the press have borne fruit: a politician accused of the murder of an investigative journalist

from an-anomaly-but-really-worrying department

Given the inalienable protections that this country has deemed essential to democracy, the United States has tolerated only limited violence against journalists. Most of this violence is perpetrated by law enforcement officers who believe that a fully functioning democracy requires that they accept documentation of their actions with force or wrongful arrests.

That reckoning changed during the Trump years as the sitting president routinely made statements describing journalists who did not flatter him as enemies of democracy. When the public revolted against police brutality, Trump sent in federal officers to bring the population back into subjugation — which often manifested in overt violence against reporters covering the protests.

You don’t have to be a Trump fan to consider journalists dangerous. All you need to be is on the wrong side of history – even if it’s only hyper-local history. The rhetoric against journalists has intensified in recent years, resulting in public statements by elected officials that sound like they would like to chair regions, for example in China. Or Turkey.

Presenting journalists as dangerous has finally claimed a victim. And the alleged perpetrator appears to be someone who would never espouse Trump’s anti-journalistic views, let alone vote for him. But when elections are on the line, journalists are first against the wall. Here is Lara Kote, journalist for Politico:

Las Vegas police have charged a local elected official with murder in connection with the stabbing death of Jeff German, an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal who had spent months exposing wrongdoing and unrest in the official’s office.

Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, a 45-year-old Democrat, was taken into custody Wednesday after police conducted a search of his home. On Thursday, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters that Telles had been charged with murder after authorities found a positive match between Telles’ DNA and genetic material found under German’s fingernails.

German had dug into Telles’ apparent misconduct, including allegations of bullying, favoritism and an inappropriate relationship with another government official. At the time of his alleged murder, German was in the process of obtaining records from the public administrator’s office.

Telles, the murder suspect, recently lost his bid for re-election. But while still in office, he repeatedly attacked the longtime investigative journalist on Twitter, calling him a “tyrant” and calling his investigative reporting “dirty plays”.

For those slights (and Telles’ recent loss at the polls), it appears the former county official felt the reporter should be killed. There is an apparent pattern. And there is also a lot of evidence.

Surveillance footage from Friday morning, the day of the murder, showed an individual wearing a long-sleeved orange T-shirt with reflective stripes and a large straw hat that covered his face. Police later recovered a similar hat from Telles’ home which had been cut into pieces, along with a pair of shoes matching those worn by the suspect in the video, which had also been cut, potentially destroying evidence, have said. authorities said.

Police said surveillance video showed the killer leaving the crime scene before returning minutes later in a maroon GMC Yukon Denali – which matched the description of a car registered to Telles’ wife.

Maybe something will come out in court that will alter the narrative. Perhaps there was a motive beyond what appears to be little more than a government official deciding that a murder charge was the best way to deter future reporting of alleged misconduct. But, for now, these are the facts and the allegations that we have to work with. And that says nothing positive about the current relationship between public servants and members of the public who are crucial to government accountability.

Filed Under: jeff german, journalism, las vegas, murder, politicians, robert telle

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