Tuesday, August 4, 2015

And then they came for Fox News

And then they came for Fox News

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A persistent theme here these last four years has been that the right-wing media machine would rather go to crazy places like President Obama's birth certificate than report on the real, honest-to-goodness scandal of his administration -- his sweeping overreach on matters he classifies as national security, whether it's targeted drone assassinations, even of U.S. citizens, or trying to throw an unprecedented number of whistleblowers into prison.

The problem is that as long as you invoke the "forever war" that was formerly known as "the global war on terror," there is no measure that is too authoritarian for Republicans' liking. Hence, we saw the bizarre scenario of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who's been very open that his mission in life is to take down Barack Obama -- refusing to criticize his Justice Department's sweeping, unprecedented and overbroad investigation of the Associated Press. Hard as it is believe, right wingers actually hate the AP and its Pulitzer-winning watchdog journalism more than they hate Obama.

So they did not speak up...and then they came for the Fox News Channel:

When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.

They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.

Here's more:

Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist — and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.

“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” said First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin, who has represented the Associated Press, but not in the current case. “That’s a very dangerous road to go down.”

So now will McConnell, Sen. John McCain, and their ilk finally be outraged at this conduct by Obama's Justice Department? I certainly hope so. It's been reported that Justice even looked into naming Fox News' Rosen as a co-conspirator in the leak probe -- in other words, criminalizing protected First Amendment activities. That is beyond outrageous.

Look, it's no secret that I've been critical of Fox News over the years, and the next time they present false or misleading information on subjects like climate change or Benghazi, I'll surely criticize them again. But journalists at Fox News have the same right to report the news, free from harassment by an oppressive government, that any other reporter has. I'm proud to stand 100 percent behind Fox News and its reporter James Rosen - and against the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department -- on this matter of vital importance.

And I promise not to let go of this issue.

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About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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