The Arizona state senator who filed a restraining order against a reporter has a history of disparaging journalists, even as she defends and praises members of the fringe right wing media, even those who spread stories that are unequivocally false.
A Coconino County justice of the peace last week granted Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers, of Flagstaff, an order of protection against Arizona Capitol Times Senate reporter Camryn Sanchez, ordering the journalist not to contact Rogers at any of her residences.
Rogers, a state senator who has called white nationalists “patriots” and called for her political enemies to be put to death, regularly doles out insults and criticism to those she describes as “liberal reporters.” But she defended right wing conspiracy theorist and media personality Alex Jones last year after he was ordered to pay $49 million in damages to the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre for falsely reporting that the shooting was faked.
While Rogers has advocated for Jones, she has criticized and lobbed insults at local journalism outlets like The Arizona Republic, the Arizona Mirror and Votebeat. She has also mocked individual reporters for those outlets and others, deploying derogatory names that one might encounter on an elementary school playground.
Rogers filed for the protective order after Sanchez visited the senator’s two properties in Maricopa County in the course of investigating whether Rogers actually lives in Flagstaff, which she represents, or outside of her district at homes in Chandler and Tempe.
The senator claimed that Sanchez stalked Rogers and her neighbors, and that Rogers was concerned for her personal safety. But Sanchez’s behavior—ringing an interview subject’s doorbell and speaking with neighbors—was typical of a news reporter working on a story.
“News reporters such as Ms. Sanchez have the right to investigate matters relating to elected officials, which is precisely what Ms. Sanchez has been doing,” Michael Gorman, publisher of the Arizona Capitol Times, said in a statement.
Rogers also asked for Sanchez to be barred from the state Senate, but the judge denied that request.
“This shows that the petition and injunction were not about the Senator’s personal safety but were about silencing the press in direct contravention of the First Amendment,” Gorman said in the statement.
The Capitol Times plans to challenge the injunction on Sanchez’s behalf, with a court hearing set for May 10.
Answering questions from news reporters is generally considered a normal part of an elected official’s job, but Rogers last year told Sanchez not to approach her on the Senate floor. Rogers is generally unresponsive to requests for interviews and comments from members of the traditional media.
When then-local reporter Adam Waltz reached out to Rogers on Twitter requesting an interview on Jan. 8, 2021, Rogers replied by saying she doesn’t “talk to leftist reporters.” She then asked him if he was being bribed to cover a story and told him to email his questions to her and that she might reply.
I don’t talk to leftist reporters. Are you taking money to cover this story? Feel free to email me and I will look at your questions. I might write back I might not. email@example.com https://t.co/znJaBdxBa7
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) January 8, 2021
In a Twitter post about the restraining order, Rogers called Sanchez’s door knocking “creepy,” but she didn’t seem to have any problem with Alex Jones’ rampant lies claiming that the slaughter of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary school never happened.
“It’s wrong what they did to Alex Jones,” Rogers posted on Truth Social Aug. 6, 2022. “He should be able to criticize the official story any time he wants. I hope he appeals the verdicts because the kangaroo courts already made him guilty before the trials started. Americans should help cover his bills. Sick of censorship!”
In total, Jones was ordered in November to pay almost $1 billion to the families of children killed in the mass shooting after they sued the host of Infowars for defamation for sharing the false story that the shooting was faked by the federal government.
Rogers has a habit of claiming that media that she doesn’t like, including the Arizona Mirror, is funded by George Soros, employing the antisemitic trope that the Jewish billionaire and philanthropist is somehow dictating their coverage. Rogers also has a tendency to label people she doesn’t agree with, including journalists, as communists.
The anti-Christian Soros press in Arizona attacks the grandma from Flagstaff. Pretty weak and pathetic.
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) February 26, 2022
Arizona is getting redder and more and more #FakeNews reporters are leaving for other more communist states.
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) February 7, 2022
Like some other conservatives, Rogers has even started criticizing Fox News, which has long been the favorite mainstream network of those on the right.
She’s taken to calling the network “Faux News”—a derogatory name created by liberals—last year, accusing the network of promoting child sex changes and of downplaying what she called a “#fullblownMAGA win” in the November election in Arizona. Republican statewide candidates lost several high-profile races, including bids for governor and U.S. Senate.
Sometimes Rogers doesn’t choose a specific mainstream media target, but lashes out at journalists in general.
In a Sept. 2, 2022, post on Telegram, Rogers posted a good night message to “everyone except clueless, entitled, imperious reporters who decry my 1A freedom of speech, yet have no respect for the blood and treasure sacrificed to speak as they please.”
On the other hand, Rogers has devoted plenty of time to promoting or praising those working in right-wing media, like Jordan Conradson of the Gateway Pundit, which has shared unproven claims as if they were fact, including that the 2022 election results in Arizona were “corrupt.”
Conradson has written several stories about Rogers’ restraining order against Sanchez, saying that the “Arizona Democrat Media Complex launched an all-out attack on Rogers” after the news of the restraining order broke. In the story, Conradson, a former GOP political operative, called Sanchez a “stalker reporter.”
Rogers devoted social media space to singing the praises of far-right conspiracy theorist Stew Peters, calling him a “trailblazing media personality who fights for the regular folks.” Peters was a leader in spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and even suggested that Anthony Fauci should be executed. Peters also put out two videos that highlighted the outlandish untruths that COVID-19 was caused by snake venom injected into the public water supply and that COVID-19 vaccines cause sudden deaths.
On Telegram, Rogers admitted her tendency to “give the benefit of the doubt” to those who align with her politically, while sharply criticizing those who don’t.
Rogers did not respond to a request for comment on this story, and Capitol Times Executive Editor Gary Grado said he couldn’t comment, but directed the Mirror to the statement from the paper’s publisher.
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