Some questions for those who are cheering Gawker's demise

Illo: Rob Beschizza
Gawker.com, the pioneering and controversial media blog, officially died yesterday. It was killed by billionaire Peter Thiel in his successful quest to bankrupt Gawker Media Group through a series of lawsuits he funded – most notably wrestler Hulk Hogan, who sued over the publication of a portion of his sex tape four years ago. Read the rest

Chelsea Manning, after suicide attempt: 'Your incredible love and support is lifting my spirits.'

Freedom of the Press Foundation’ table at  2016 HopeX. Photo: Yan Zhu
Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning is suffering from severe mental health challenges in prison, directly related to her treatment in prison. She isn't getting the care she needs, and she recently tried to take her own life.

Chelsea is a transgender woman who, despite her gender identity being acknowledged by the world, is forced by the U.S. to serve out her sentence in an all-male maximum security prison. To be a woman imprisoned among men is a most gendered form of cruel and unusual punishment, but America's hatred and misunderstanding of trans people allows this to be the norm.

Read the rest

Dozens of news orgs demand DOJ release its secret rules for targeting journalists with secret National Security Letters

nsls

Freedom of the Press Foundation recently filed a huge brief in the organization's case demanding that the Justice Department release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters. And in related news, a coalition of 37 news organizations - including the New York Times, The Associated Press, USA Today, Buzzfeed, and tons more - filed an amicus brief in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation case, demanding that the Department of Justice do the same.

Read the rest

What Amazon's Jeff Bezos thinks about Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker

bez

In this video from the Recode conference, an interesting reveal of what Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos thinks of the legal battle between Peter Thiel and Gawker, with Hulk Hogan as a most unfortunate proxy. Bezos is full of surprising insights here, and offers Thiel some tough love.

The only effective defense public figures like Thiel have against their critics, says Bezos: “Develop a thick skin.”

Read the rest

Gawker lost. Hulk Hogan wins $115M verdict against Gawker in sex tape trial

Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, sits in court during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Florida March 17, 2016.  Reuters

A Florida jury today ruled in favor of Hulk Hogan's privacy claims instead of Gawker's arguments for press freedom. The court handed the former wrestling star a $115 million verdict against Gawker Media over a 2012 gawker.com blog post about the now-infamous Hulk Hogan sex tape.

Read the rest

New documents shed light on secret DoJ rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters

Exterior of U.S. Department of Justice building in DC. Photo: Reuters.

In July 2015, Freedom of the Press Foundation sued the Justice Department (DOJ) over the agency’s secret rules governing how the FBI can target members of the media with due process-free National Security Letters, and we have just received documents back in the ongoing lawsuit. Read the rest

Missouri student files complaint against Melissa "Muscle" Click

University of Missouri Professor Melissa Click telling a student journalist to leave a public space. (Mark Schierbecker/YouTube

Above: a longer video that shows Professor Click's attempts to block and eject University of Missouri student Mark Schierbecker after she called for "muscle."

Professor Melissa Click says she can't recall pushing University of Missouri student Mark Schierbecker, who recorded her calling for "muscle" to remove him from a campus protest. But Schierbecker says she did push him and he has filed a complaint with the with campus police, reports USA Today.

Schierbecker said he met with Click at her office on Tuesday, but that he found her apology "lacking." He said that he's made further attempts to contact Click to speak to her about his grievances with her, but she has refused to engage him.

"I am just left with the feeling that she doesn't care," Schierbecker told USA TODAY.

It's interesting that Schierbecker had to go to Professor Click's office to receive her apology. If she really cared, she would have gone to Schierbecker's home. But maybe she's afraid to leave her office. She told faculty members that she's received "2,000 threatening e-mails since Monday's incident."

See also: Dear Melissa Click: Your Apology Is Bullshit Read the rest

Egypt sentences 3 Al Jazeera reporters to 3 years in prison

Baher Mohamed, a journalist with Al Jazeera English, in the court room on Saturday in Cairo. Credit Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
They are sentenced to three years in prison, on charges widely believed to be politically motivated and otherwise baseless.

Journalists around the world voice support for Netzpolitik after outrageous 'treason' investigation

Reuters
Reporters and press freedom advocates from around the world have signed on to support Netzpolitik and condemn the German government's outrageous investigation.

If the FBI has a backdoor to Facebook or Apple encryption, we are less safe

Reuters
It seems pretty clear the next battle in Congress will almost certainly be over encryption.

Obama’s Justice Department secretly helped kill FOIA transparency bill

U.S. President Barack Obama looks toward Attorney General Eric Holder. Justice Department investigators have engaged in aggressive tactics against journalists in recent months. [Reuters]

We’ve long known the Justice Department’s stance on transparency has been hypocritical and disingenuous. But they’ve really outdone themselves this time. Read the rest

Australian bill will put journos in prison for 10 years for reporting leaks

The bill was introduced on Wednesday by Attorney General George Brandis, and it gives the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to imprison leakers (including reporters) for five years, with ten year sentences for anything regarding "special intelligence operations" (illegal spy operations conducted under promise of immunity). Read the rest

House approves 'media shield' amendment, as reporter reveals 2011 subpoena fight

The House of Representatives today voted 225-183 to approve an appropriations bill amendment that bars the Justice Department from forcing reporters to testify about their confidential sources.

Read the rest

Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's comments on Edward Snowden and the NSA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and students at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas

Hillary Clinton made her first extended public remarks about Edward Snowden late last week, and unfortunately she misstated some basic facts about the NSA whistleblower and how events have played out in the last year. Here’s a breakdown of what she said and where she went wrong:

Clinton: "If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been… I don't understand why he couldn't have been part of the debate at home."

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Snowden that even NSA reform advocates have furthered. Edward Snowden could not be part of this debate at home, period. Read the rest

Press freedom case of NYT reporter James Risen may go to Supreme Court

"A federal appeals court will not reconsider a decision compelling a journalist to identify a source who disclosed details of a secret CIA operation," reports the AP: Read the rest

Journalists at Bradley Manning trial report hostile conditions for press

UPDATE: Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court.”

Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.

@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.

I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.

But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Read the rest