prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

AP Phone Records and the 1st Amendment

Posted by prof e on May 19, 2013

DOJ_APThe Department of Justice (DOJ) recently subpoenaed the telephone records of approximately 100 reporters working for the Associated Press (AP) in an effort to find out who, within the current administration, leaked national security information to the AP. In case you haven’t noticed, this is a big deal for journalists everywhere. Journalists take very seriously their role in serving as a check and balance to the power of government…and for government to curtail journalists’ power is a very serious matter. On the other hand, when national security is at stake, it makes sense that government be able to restrict the flow of information that could jeopardize the safety of those who protect us from those who want to do us harm.

Even without considering the political implications this is complicated and this little blog post cannot begin to get to the bottom of the story. However, it is an important issue that you should pay attention to assuming you want to be an informed citizen and an informed consumer of news. Remember, the AP is an important institution that serves our democratic ideal by helping us, the voters, understand the issues at hand. If the AP and similar non-partisan news institutions are not permitted to do their job, we all suffer and we become vulnerable to political tyrants who will stop at nothing to advance their agendas.

Gary Pruitt, speaking for the AP, claims that the actions taken by the current administration and the DOJ are unconstitutional and will result in harm to journalism as sources and whistle-blowers are already beginning to withhold information for fear of governmental reprisal. This intimidation of journalists by the DOJ on behalf of the current administration should be cause for concern for those who believe in the power of the press to reign in the abuse of political power. Remember, the press is supposed to be a watch dog on the prowl to protect the citizenry; not the lap dog of those in power.

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3 Responses to “AP Phone Records and the 1st Amendment”

  1. M said

    “The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently subpoenaed the telephone records of approximately 100 reporters working for the Associated Press (AP) in an effort to find out who, within the current administration, leaked national security information to the AP.” The Doc

    Yes! Your beginning to connect the dots! And not too long ago, thanks to the Patriot Act, the government subpoenaed the records of the large telecoms to spy directly on American consumer/citizens on behalf of the Bush II regime. Where was citizen and AP outrage then!?! -The Ogre

    “Journalists take very seriously their role in serving as a check and balance to the power of government…and for government to curtail journalists’ power is a very serious matter.” -The Doc

    *Smirks* Riiiiggghhht, And FOX News, MSNBC, CNN and also the broadcast and print news networks aren’t corporately controlled partisan mouthpieces feigning neutrality and propagating talking points to align the interests of multi-national conglomerates who do in fact dictate those sinister government agendas. Tell me another beautiful lie, please. Sure, we can dig through the layers of media detritus to find gems of watchdog reporting somewheres, but to think that their short-lived placement at the forefront of the consumer/citizen gaze isn’t intentional is an exorcize in self-delusion. People are more likely to know Kim Kardashian’s due date and her baby’s eye color before they’ll ever know anything of just the latest in a long, long, long line of corporate/government scandals. -The Ogre

    “On the other hand, when national security is at stake, it makes sense that government be able to restrict the flow of information that could jeopardize the safety of those who protect us from those who want to do us harm.” -The Doc

    That’s what the Patriot act and now the NDAA is for. See former (fired and blacklisted) NYT journalist Chris Hedges for the never mentioned in the press coverage of his battle against government tyranny in the Supreme Court. Rest assured sleepy citizens, the government has gotcha covered. “Safe and secure we are in the police state,” says master Yoda. Of course, when all else fails revert to the slippery slope argument that the government necessarily should police the media for stories that may interfere with national security aka the sinister agenda. The government can kill foreign journalists and their children over seas, and when a ‘traitorous” American soldier leaks red-handed film footage of the travesty to the media, he’s welcomed to three hots and a cot in a military prison. See PVT Bradley Manning for more info. Neither the citizen/consumer nor the sleeping watchdogs barely batted an eye for details about that case, let alone rolled over for a good fart. -The Ogre

    “Remember, the AP is an important institution that serves our democratic ideal by helping us, the voters, understand the issues at hand.” -The Doc

    Bahahahahaha! -The Ogre

    “If the AP and similar non-partisan news institutions are not permitted to do their job, we all suffer and we become vulnerable to political tyrants who will stop at nothing to advance their agendas.”-The Doc

    Too late. It’s already game over folks. Leave the stadium, your spectator democracy is dead… We lost. Tyranny via soft Totalitarianism arrived in the country at least 40 years ago, and we changed the TV channel whenever it interrupted our regularly scheduled programming. -The Ogre

    “This intimidation of journalists by the DOJ on behalf of the current administration should be cause for concern for those who believe in the power of the press to reign in the abuse of political power. Remember, the press is supposed to be a watch dog on the prowl to protect the citizenry; not the lap dog of those in power.” -The Doc

    I appreciate how you slip in this covert partisan jab without saying Obama’s name. And I totally agree with you. He’s a slippery-tongued snake, and he’s been in office for quite some time, under the aliases of Bush II (The Decider), Bill (Spit or Swallow?) Clinton, Bush I (Read My Lips), Ronnie (What’s My Name Again?) Reagan, and so on and so on.

    Sam, In all seriousness. I’ll cop to once being trapped in the false Conservative VS Liberal dichotomy and a mere cynic if you’ll admit to being way behind the curve in trumpeting these very valid concerns. Thanks for presenting such a meaty topic that finally opens my eyes. -Shrek

  2. Aimee Harmon said

    The DOJ tapping in to private phone messages is a complete lack of privacy, and should quite frankly scare everyone enough to be extremely conscious of what media and global content they are partaking in. In class it was discussed that one of the next steps for big industries, like Google, is to track users’ lives by ways of DNA imprinting. Like in the short video, before we know it pizza places will know our financial situations, our medical history, where we live, what we usually order and who we know. It’s scary to realize that we are in Big Brother, and someone is always watching.

  3. Boluwatife Olayinka said

    The actions taken by the recent administration and the DOJ is definitely going to harm journalism. Trying to find someone who leaked something to the media by going through their phone records is harmful to journalism and goes against the law of the first amendment. The first amendment to the constitution says that ‘congress shall make no law prohibiting the freedom of speech or the press’. Joseph Turow said that the country’s founders were deterred that in the new nation no one would need governments permission to communicate ideas.

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