The Justice Department’s invocation of national security notwithstanding, its broad seizure of the telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors is a troubling, overbroad effort and an opportunity to renew our call for a federal shield law.
Such a law would have a carve-out for national security, but it would also buttress protections from overzealous government officials’ subpoenas. The late Sen. Arlen Specter was a tireless advocate for the shield. Rep. John Conyers has taken up that standard. White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week that President Obama supports a federal shield, as does Attorney General Eric Holder. If so, the administration has a curious way of showing it.
According to AP, it was not notified of the phone record grab, and thus not given a chance to argue against it or for a more narrow collection.
“We are seriously concerned about the actions taken by the Department of Justice, which could have a chilling effect on the U.S. media and its ability to report on sensitive issues,” Committee to Protect Journalists program coordinator Carlos Lauría said last week. Lauría is in charge of a program targeting threats to press freedom in the Americas, a threat that includes the administration. “We call on [Holder] to provide a full explanation of the Department of Justice’s decision and comply with the request from the AP to return all telephone records,” Lauría said. So do we.
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below.
Thank you for signing up to Broadcasting & Cable. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.