ABC News on Wednesday announced it had suspended correspondent David Wright for comments he made that were secretly recorded and disseminated by a right-wing activist group. The following statement is attributable to Nora Benavidez, director of U.S. Free Expression Programs at PEN America.

“ABC’s decision essentially—and wrongly—suggests that journalists are unable to do their work professionally if they have private opinions, as any individual does. In doing so, it hands a victory to an outfit whose mission is to use underhanded tactics to undermine public faith in the credibility of a free press. Wright was expressing his personal opinions at a bar, and even gave a disclaimer that his comments were separate from his professional work. To punish him for this sends the wrong message to the public and to those who seek to further drive distrust in professional media.” 

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