When journalists can’t effectively do their job, democracy is at risk. Freedom of the press allows the coverage of government without fear of reprisals. That constitutional right was crippled the moment the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly obtained the Associated Press (AP) reporter and editor phone records.
NAHJ questions the DOJ’s motive. For the DOJ not to give a clear reason for the perceived overstepping of its authority is unacceptable and dangerous.
AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the records obtained by the government, “…potentially reveal communications with confidential sources…provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
Journalists value the trust given to them by confidential sources who provide valuable information based on the guarantee of anonymity. The DOJ’s questionable behavior placed the AP and other media organizations in a volatile situation.
It’s not enough for the government to say it acted in the best interest of the public when the public’s interest was violated by its actions.NAHJ urges Attorney General Eric Holder explain the DOJ’s actions to the public.