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Sundance award winner 'arrested for practicing journalism'

Published February 3, 2012 11:19 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Journalists are usually disparaged, ignored or insulted by politicians. But arrested?

That's what happened at a congressional hearing Wednesday to Josh Fox, the documentary filmmaker who received an Oscar nomination and a Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for his brilliant movie "Gasland."

According to Poliitco, Fox had brought a camera crew to cover a House Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the technique of pumping water and chemicals into the ground to free up natural-gas deposits. It's a procedure that, as Fox detailed in "Gasland," has polluted ground water and left people with tap water they can light on fire. (Fox is working on a sequel to "Gasland.")

The hearing, which covered a "fracking" case in Wyoming that Fox had detailed in "Gasland," was about to start when the committee's chairman, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), not only had him kicked out but handcuffed. "I'm within my First Amendment rights, and I'm being taken out," Fox shouted as he was removed.

Fox was charged with unlawful entry, processed and later released.

In a statement afterward, Fox said, "I was not expecting to be arrested for practicing journalism." In an interview with Politico, Fox said, "basically, we were trying to comply with their rules and at every turn we were backed off. Here we are worried, 'Are we going to be blacklisted off the Hill?' and it looks like we already have been."

As the great Charlie Pierce likes to say: This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.