The “donate” function on the group’s website, too, is getting a more vigorous workout. It registered a 26-fold boost in the two-day period after PNS reporter Dan Heyman attempted to get an answer from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price as to whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the Trump-backed American Health Care Act.
Don’t get the notion, however, that PNS is preparing a hiring spree with the fresh money. As Corbeil outlines to the Erik Wemple Blog, her organization hauls in between $20 and $30 over a normal two-day period from its donation module. Over the two days after Heyman’s arrest at the West Virginia capital, that two-day number spiked to $775.
Huge percentage, small sum.
“It’s the largest two-day period ever for us,” says Corbeil, who founded PNS in 1996. “But we’ve got a long way to go to cover all the potential costs” associated with Heyman’s arrest for “willful disruption of governmental processes.” According to authorities, 54-year-old reporter was arrested for his “physical action,” though the complaint in the case alleges that “the defendant was causing a disturbance by yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price.” As for Price himself, he has praised the action of the police in the case.
Another factor cited by Price is that Heyman was not asking his question in the forum where reporters commonly ask questions. “This gentleman was not in the press conference,” said Price in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt. That comment acquired authoritarian irony in light of Trump’s musing Friday in an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro that the White House might just dump its daily press briefings altogether. “If Trump has his way now,” says Corbeil, “we won’t have these conferences, so the problem goes away entirely.” That problem being questions.
Corbeil & Co. don’t fund PNS exclusively through over-the-transom donations for its roughly $1.1 million annual budget, of course. Most of the money comes from foundations and small nonprofits that support’s PNS’s mission “to support democracy and promote public dialogue in a rapidly changing media environment.” For a taste of what sort of stories that entails, have a look at the group’s homepage — a “die-in” protesting Trumpcare; a report taking issue with Texas abortion laws; an update on a food drive.