John Kennedy at Press Club 070119

U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy, R-Madisonville, addressed the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, July 1, 2019.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is many things, but he’s certainly not press-shy.

This is to his credit. While he clearly relishes the attention that his folksy interviews draw, Kennedy’s willingness to engage with reporters, take questions and explain his thinking on matters of public interest also reflects a healthy respect for the press’s role in keeping voters informed.

Not all of his colleagues seem to share that respect. Ahead of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Senate leaders announced tight restrictions on the movements of journalists covering the hearings. Those issuing the rules cited security, but members of the press corps go through the same checks as everyone else. It seems that the real aim is to protect the senators who’ll decide major matters such as the status of witnesses — and who’ll ultimately rule on whether the president should be removed from office — from being interviewed as they walk to and from the proceedings.

Kennedy and a few of his colleagues have raised concerns about the rules, arguing that they send the "wrong message." 

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy's often-recycled quips win over national audience

“It’s a huge mistake,” he told Politico. “U.S. senators are grown women and grown men. If they don’t want to make a comment, they know how to say ‘no comment’ … We aren’t children.”

He’s right. And the impeachment trial is far too serious a matter for Senate leaders to be playing these sorts of games.