The Department of Justice said Saturday (June 5) that, going forward, it will not be issuing subpoenas for reporters' records in leak investigations.
That came after the New York Times reported that not only was the Biden White House continuing the pursuit of such records from its reporters, a hold-over from a Trump era investigation, but that it had issued a gag order preventing the paper's executives from talking about it, even to its own staff.
"While the Trump administration never informed The Times about the effort," said Times attorney David McCraw, according to the paper. "[T]he Biden administration continued waging the fight this year, telling a handful of top Times executives about it but imposing a gag order to shield it from public view." McCaw called that gag order unprecedented.
"As appropriate given the independence of the Justice Department in specific criminal cases, no one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night," said Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a statement. "While the White House does not intervene in criminal investigations, the issuing of subpoenas for the records of reporters in leak investigations is not consistent with the President’s policy direction to the Department, and the Department of Justice has reconfirmed it will not be used moving forward."
CNN reported last month that the Trump Administration had obtained phone records and e-mails of CNN correspondents as part of leak investigations.
Trump spent much of his administration attacking the Times, CNN, NBC and others who wrote negative stories about him as his enemies — and enemies of the people — in league with Democrats to un-elect him. In the case of NBC, he suggested the FCC should investigate whether it should continue to hold broadcast licenses.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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