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Justice Department releases reports on encounters with journalists

The Justice Department just released 2016 and 2017 reports on their use of law enforcement tools against journalists. Guidelines have been established first in 1970 and recently revised in 2014 and 2015 to keep journalists from becoming an “investigative arm” of the government. The reports showed there has been no upsurge in subpoenas or search warrants during the last four years. the report also revealed 113 “News Media Consultations” but offers no details on the nature of these consultations. (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, November 9, 2018, by Linda Moon)

Several significant cases surfaced during the Trump administration, one charging freelance journalist Aaron Cantú with inciting violence while he was covering the inauguration of President Donald Trump.  Charges against Cantú were dropped after it surfaced that the prosecution withheld evidence. In 2017 New York Times reporter Ali Watkins saw her records seized in the leak investigation of the director of security for the Senate intelligence committee. These encounters with the Justice Department make it more difficult for reporters to report and protect confidential sources given the threat that the federal government could obtain reporters’ records. (Shadowproof, November 12, 2018, by Kevin Gosztola)

 

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