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View Diary: Republican efforts to skewer Obama and Holder over IRS and AP are blunted (118 comments)

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  •  I agree that it's just started, and deserves... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, kat68, KayCeSF, fou, MrJayTee

    ...broader attention, which is why I brought it up. But read the headline in context: It's the Republican effort that is blunted. Not ours.

    The fight for a shield law provides the left with an opportunity to get other important civil liberties issues in our ever-more intrusive surveillance state brought to the foreground by the very media that have had so too little to say about it since the Patriot Acts were imposed with congressional near-unanimity.

     

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri May 17, 2013 at 06:58:42 PM PDT

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    •  MB, you should read this Bloomberg piece... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ishmaelbychoice

      ...from Yale Law School Professor Stephen L. Carter re: The Shield Law...for you, especially, I think the entire article is a "must-read"...

      Note to Media: The First Amendment Protects All of Us
      By Stephen L. Carter
      Bloomberg
      May 16, 2013 6:00 PM ET

      President Barack Obama’s administration announced this week that it is throwing its support behind the press shield law that has been stalled in Congress since time immemorial. Critics insist that the administration, suddenly mired in scandal, is simply trying to curry favor with the news media, but the proposal deserves to be judged on its merits.

      And on its merits, the shield law is a bad idea. Let me explain why.

      I believe that the First Amendment is the single most important provision in the Constitution. Part of what makes it so is that it protects all Americans -- not just journalists.

      The avowed purpose of the shield law is to make it difficult for the government to compel testimony from journalists. It is self-evident that being forced to disclose confidential information would make it harder for reporters to do their jobs. In effect, the risk of compelled disclosure increases the cost of journalism.

      A useful analogy is the case of NAACP v. Alabama, decided 55 years ago, in which the Supreme Court held that forced disclosure of membership lists would burden the freedom of association. This seems plainly correct. If all the world can know which organizations you join, your cost of membership is effectively increased. That, wrote the justices, the Constitution does not allow the state to do...

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:39:03 PM PDT

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      •  Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobswern, fou

        ...particular piece, but I am sadly familiar with the progress, rather lack of, toward a real shield law.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:44:59 PM PDT

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        •  Essentially, the most popular version of the... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy

          ...bill, on Capitol Hill, provides no protection to bloggers and even some members of the press, depending upon their particular status (i.e.: most contract journalists, as opposed to salaried journalists, wouldn't be covered, either). It's extremely precise, in terms of who would be protected, and who would not.

          "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

          by bobswern on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:49:12 PM PDT

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          •  ALSO...another "must-read" on this story... (4+ / 0-)
            For Extra Credit: A Little Light Reading on Press Rights
            By MARGARET SULLIVAN
            NY Times Public Editor Blog
            May 17, 2013, 9:02 am

            With press rights very much in the news this week, here are some of the most noteworthy pieces I’ve come across on the subject.

            1. Molly Redden of The New Republic writes that there really is a chilling effect on journalism from the Justice Department’s leak investigations, quoting the investigative journalist Jane Mayer: “It’s a huge impediment to reporting, and so ‘chilling’ isn’t quite strong enough. It’s more like freezing the whole process into a standstill.”

            2. David A. Kaplan of Fortune magazine, who teaches First Amendment law at New York University, says the press should stop whining: “From the government’s perspective, lawlessness is a bad thing, and disclosure of secrets can endanger security. When the Justice Department, legally (so far as we know), wants to obtain evidence to prove law-breaking, it seems to me the press is entitled to no special protection.”

            3. The former New York Times counsel James Goodale, writing in The Daily Beast, compares President Obama’s record on press rights to that of President Richard Nixon and recalls that Mr. Obama “deep-sixed” the press shield law he is now proposing.

            4. Frank Rich of New York Magazine, formerly a Times columnist, calls the seizure of Associated Press phone records “the scandal with legs” for the president.

            The Justice Department informed the Associated Press last Friday that it had secretly seized phone records of reporters and editors, apparently to suss out the source of a leak on a CIA-foiled terrorism plot. This administration has indicted six current and former government officials on leak-related charges, far more than any previous administration. How much do you worry about a chilling effect on political and national-security reporting?

            This is the scandal with legs. It is not the work of lower level bureaucrats and is entirely consistent with the Obama White House’s efforts to shut out, intimidate, and manipulate the press. I don’t think Eric Holder’s explanation adds up — any of it. It doesn’t make sense that he would have recused himself from the broad investigation of the AP; his explanations of why he did so (e.g., because he has “frequent contact with the media”) sound like dissembling. Holder’s claim that the AP story “put the American people at risk” is also suspect. I believe Gary Pruitt, the AP’s chief executive, when he says that his organization “held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed.” There’s nothing in Pruitt’s career or the AP’s past behavior to support the case that he would be making this up. So, yes, the Obama administration is and has been trying to chill reporters on national security and other areas. And, as we are seeing daily, its efforts at intimidation have done little to stop leaks. The sweeping assault on the AP’s phone lines demands a true investigation — not a dog-and-pony show by the Republican House.

            5. Thomas Stackpole of Mother Jones, with information from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, details the six indictments of government leakers during the Obama administration.

            6. The New Yorker’s general counsel, Lynn Oberlander, analyzes the A.P. phone records case from a legal perspective: “Even beyond the outrageous and overreaching action against the journalists, this is a blatant attempt to avoid the oversight function of the courts.”

            7. Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institution, writing for National Review Online, summarizes the recent troubles in the Obama administration: “ ‘Hope and change’ is fast becoming the 1973 Nixon White House.”

            8. Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian writes about the media’s sudden interest in civil liberties, coming rather late in the troubled game, as he notes. In short, he writes, the issue is catching fire now because media organizations are now in the crosshairs: “It is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are.”

            Due to the controversies over the IRS and (especially) the DOJ's attack on AP's news gathering process, media outlets have suddenly decided that President Obama has a very poor record on civil liberties, transparency, press freedoms, and a whole variety of other issues on which he based his first campaign. The first two paragraphs of this Washington Post article from yesterday, expressed in tones of recent epiphany, made me laugh audibly:
            "President Obama, a former constitutional law lecturer who came to office pledging renewed respect for civil liberties, is today running an administration at odds with his résumé and preelection promises.

            "The Justice Department's collection of journalists' phone records and the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups have challenged Obama's credibility as a champion of civil liberties - and as a president who would heal the country from damage done by his predecessor."

            You don't say! The Washington Post's breaking news here is only about four years late. Back in mid-2010, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, speaking about Obama's civil liberties record at a progressive conference, put it this way: "I'm disgusted with this president." In the spirit of optimism, one can adopt a "better-late-than-never" outlook regarding this newfound media awakening.

            As a result of the last week, there is an undeniable and quite substantial sea change in how the establishment media is thinking and speaking about Obama. The ultimate purveyors of Beltway media conventional wisdom (CW), Politico's Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, published an article yesterday headlined "DC turns on Obama", writing that "the town is turning on President Obama - and this is very bad news for this White House" and "reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration."…

            "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

            by bobswern on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:55:37 PM PDT

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