- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Newsgathering has taken a hit since AP phone records seized
Question of the Day
The Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records has had a “chilling” effect on the news organization according to CEO Gary Pruitt, a First Amendment lawyer who took his case to the National Press Club on Wednesday, complete with a wish list of changes he would like to see.
“The actions of the DOJ against AP are already having an impact beyond the specifics of this case. Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us,” Mr. Pruitt said.
Justice Department officials informed him May 10 that the federal government had gathered records for multiple phone lines assigned to AP journalists in April and May 2012. The federal agency was likely seeking the source of leaked information for an AP story about a foiled terrorist plot.
The news organization came out swinging: Mr. Pruitt declared the action a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” and “unconstitutional” during multiple broadcast appearances in the aftermath.
“This chilling effect on newsgathering is not just limited to AP. Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me that it has intimidated both official and nonofficial sources from speaking to them as well,” Mr. Pruitt said. “The government may love this. But beware a government that loves too much secrecy.”
He offered five recommendations for the future of newsgathering.
Mr. Pruitt asked that Justice “recognize the right of the press to advance notice and a chance to be heard before its records are taken by the government.” He also recommended judicial oversight under such circumstances to ensure that “proper checks and balances are maintained.”
Third, Mr. Pruitt asked that Justice guidelines be “updated to bring them into the 21st century,” citing current protocols that were created before the Internet era of emails and texting. He also demanded a federal shield law “with teeth” that would protect reporters from government action.
“We want the department to institutionalize formally what Attorney General [Eric H. Holder Jr.] has said publicly: that the Justice Department will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job,” said Mr. Pruitt in his fifth and final demand. “The department should not criminalize — or threaten to criminalize — journalists for doing their jobs, such as by calling them co-conspirators under the Espionage Act, as they did Fox reporter James Rosen. This needs to be part of an established directive, not only limited to the current administration.”
Mr. Pruitt added, “AP has no political dog in this fight. It is not about Democrats or Republicans. Our issue is freedom of the press and the rights instilled in the First Amendment that were created to hold government accountable. This administration, which came to power on a platform of transparency, has been invoking ever more reasons to keep information confidential from the press and the public.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Inside the Beltway: Frugal-phobic Congress offers 828 spending bills
- It's grim: 911 Commission warns terrorism has entered 'a new and dangerous phase'
- Inside the Beltway: The evolving White House deflection strategy
- Rick Perry: County jails in Texas have taken in 203,000 'criminal aliens'
- Inside the Beltway: White House fundraising — never a dull moment
Latest Blog Entries
- A startling 20 percent of Democratic lawmakers already endorse Hillary Clinton for president
- Hey food police: calling obesity a 'disease' is actually a health risk
- Cheese and an 'enhanced experience': White House goes showbiz on the State of the Union address
- Cruz calls it a 'circus': the State of the Union spectacle begins
- Half of American fans say God and 'supernatural' forces are in play during sports events
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Pro-Russia rebel commander suggests passengers died days before Malaysian flight
- TYRRELL: The birth of a new alignment in the Middle East
- Despite rhetoric, gun prosecutions plummet under Obama
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq