Tennessee legislators advanced an effort Wednesday to officially recognize both The Washington Post and CNN as being “fake news and part of the media wing of the Democratic Party.”
Members of the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee of the Tennessee state House of Representatives voted 13-5 to pass the joint resolution, with four lawmakers abstaining.
Introduced last month by Tennessee state Rep. Micah Van Huss, Jonesborough Republican, the measure is now set to be heard at a later date by the House Calendar and Rules Committee.
Mr. Van Huss, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corp, reasoned his proposal was a response to reporting by The Post and CNN that negatively depicted supporters of President Trump.
Specifically, Mr. Van Huss singled out a book review printed by The Post in October and a CNN segment aired the following month that he said implied Trump supporters are cultists.
“In 2016, over 60% of Tennessee voters voted for President Trump,” he said during the Judiciary Committee hearing. “My constituents are tired of these elitists in the media denigrating them, and they’re tired of fake news, and they’re tired of folks who don’t fight for them, and so I’m going to stand up and I’m going to fight.”
Democratic members of the committee including state Reps. Bo Mitchell of Nashville and G. A. Hardaway of Memphis spoke against the resolution by arguing it amounts to censorship.
“I’m shocked that you want to abridge someone else’s First Amendment rights,” said Mr. Mitchell, who warned passing the proposal could lead lawmakers down “a slippery slope.”
“Nobody in here would ever think that I would champion Trump’s political leanings, but I certainly would champion his right to say, to print, whatever his political leanings are,” Mr. Hardaway said during the hearing. “I think it’s a dangerous time when we start suggesting that everything you hear from the press is not real.”
Mr. Van Huss countered their cries of censorship by insisting his proposal “does not suppress anything.”
“CNN and The Washington Post have every right to have their First Amendment right to denigrate as many people as they want, and we have our First Amendment right. We have our right to speak on behalf of our constituents,” Mr. Van Huss said.
The Post declined to comment on the committee’s vote when reached by The Washington Times. CNN did not immediately return a similar inquiry.