Free Press No More: FBI Targets Fox Reporters, Producer for Talking to Sources

The Obama Administration’s persecution of journalists has gone beyond secretly gathering Associated Press phone records and extended to surveillance and secret investigations of two Fox News reporters and a producer who were involved in a 2009 story about North Korea’s likely reactions to new United Nations sanctions.

The story involved talking to a government source who leaked information to Fox chief Washington correspondent James Rosen. The Department of Justice investigated Rosen, Emmy Award-winning reporter William La Jeunesse and Fox News producer Mike Levine.

The source was a State Department official who may have handed over classified information to Rosen. In the application for a warrant, the FBI calls Rosen a “co-conspirator” and compares him to a foreign “intelligence officer” rather than a reporter.

The United States has always had a free press (at least up to this point), and certain laws and rules have built up around that concept. While it is illegal for a government employee to reveal classified information, it is not illegal for a journalist to report it if such information comes to him.

In Washington, D.C., in particular, reporters have come to rely on government sources speaking anonymously and sometimes leaking confidential information. This has more to do with government culture (particularly since Vietnam) than with reporters, who otherwise would be stuck reporting whatever party line the White House or other politicians are peddling.

By investigating Rosen as a “co-conspirator” and the other Fox employees, this Administration is literally crushing the life out of what little actual journalism has been going on since Barack Obama took office.

According to an Inspector General report, during its investigation, the FBI read emails and tracked phone calls, sought subpoenas on the Fox employees but never informed them they were being investigated, and swore out the affidavit claiming that Rosen had broken the law.

Such tactics, and the tactics employed in gathering Associated Press phone records, can only have the goal of squelching journalism that is not approved by the Obama Administration. The repercussions are already extending beyond just Fox and AP.

New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti told the Washington Post (italics mine):

“There’s no question that this has a chilling effect. People who have talked in the past are less willing to talk now. Everyone is worried about communication and how to communicate, and  is there any method of communication that is not being monitored. It’s got people on both sides — the reporter and source side — pretty concerned.

“It certainly seems like they’re being very serious about hunting down people talking to reporters. All we know are the results. The fact that you have so many [cases] now, it scares people who talk to us. [Sources] who might have talked to us once may not talk to us now.”

According to a report by Bloomberg, Attorney General Eric Holder has pursued more alleged leakers than all previous attorneys general combined. Up till now, those prosecutions have targeted government leakers, not journalists who publish the information.

The head of the AP has called the Administration’s actions “unconstitutional.” James Goodale, who was a general counsel for the New York Times in the famous Pentagon Papers case, said the Obama Administration is on a par with the Nixon Administration in its disdain for press freedom.

The mainstream media have rightly been the target of much criticism for their lack of coverage of the Obama Administration’s many abuses of the Constitution and its many scandals, and there is a strong temptation to regard current events as the media’s overdue comeuppance.

However, what we citizens are facing is a rogue Administration that is attacking our fundamental freedom of the press. As conservatives, we know that Obama and his lackeys have painted bull’s eyes on our backs since he took office because of our defense of traditional values. This assault on the press is just one prong of a larger attack on all the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.

Who knows what else the crooks in this Administration have been up to?

But if this is what it takes to finally wake up the media, and thus the public, there may yet be hope for America.