With new "news media" guidelines, White House ever-closer to instituting an Official Press

Emptywheel nails what's so concerning about the new "news media" guidelines released late Friday by US Attorney General Eric Holder:

The First Amendment was written, in part, to eliminate the kind of official press that parrots only the King’s sanctioned views. But with its revised “News Media Policies,” DOJ gets us closer to having just that, an official press.

That’s because all the changes laid out in the new policy (some of which are good, some of which are obviously flawed) apply only to “members of the news media.” They repeat over and over and over and over, “news media.” I’m not sure they once utter the word “journalist” or “reporter.” And according to DOJ’s Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide, a whole slew of journalists are not included in their definition of “news media.”

Perhaps, under these guidelines, the phone and email records of investigative reporters like the New York Times' James Risen or Fox News' James Rosen would be less likely targeted.

Blogs are explicitly identified as not being "news media," so, for instance, your faithful Boing Boing editors (who are journalists) wouldn't be covered. And the guidelines also specify what emptywheel rightly terms the “WikiLeaks exception.”

Again, Emptywheel:

Ultimately, I think DOJ is so anxious for Congress to pass a shield law (which they say elsewhere in their report) because it’ll mean Congress will do the dirty work of defining who is and who is not a journalist.

Notable Replies

  1. I am so glad I voted for a constitutional scholar.

  2. More and more draconian and frightening as they go along...

  3. Given the choice between state-run media and a media-run corporate state, I'd rather

    You know, I've completely lost track of what's going on with this country. I feel like that's been deliberately arranged.

  4. This would seem to be part-and-parcel with any attempt to create a media shield policy or law. You can't provide a special immunity to the press without defining who the press is.

    Ordinary citizen do not have immunity from searches when the government obtains a valid warrant. If my business, though no fault of my own, comes into contact with a criminal, the government can get a warrant to obtain information that would help them convict the criminal.

    What shield policies and laws do is exempt the press from being searchable under the same circumstances as an ordinary citizen. Exempting the press may be justifiable but it still requires defining who qualifies for the exemption.

  5. This government doesn't give a damn about the constitution. Bush/Chaney broke the spine of the constitution and the rule of law and Obama/Biden continued the law breaking every more energy. They are spying on us all. What made you think that they would uphold the 1st amendment after the 4th was voided.

    I have absolutely no confidence in this government at all.

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