While the media are usually doing the bidding of President Obama and the Democrats, and are deep in the President’s pocket, there are cases in which they are very unhappy with his actions. New York Times reporter James Risen has become famous not only for his ongoing Espionage Act case, but also for his willingness to call President Obama the “greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”
In the case of Fox News reporter James Rosen, the government “monitored Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department,” according to CBS News. They also “searched his personal emails and combed through his cell phone records.” Risen received similar treatment: his computer was subjected to forensic analysis and his phone calls were investigated.
Yet President Barack Obama’s press secretary recently had the temerity to joke to another Fox News White House correspondent that “We are always watching.” Rosen was labeled a “criminal co-conspirator” alongside Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who recently went to jail for his crime. Clearly, the Obama administration has either not learned from its mistakes—or doesn’t care.
As I mentioned in an earlier article about Obama’s ongoing war on journalists, Risen appealed to the Supreme Court to carve out special immunity for reporters in the courts. But his bid to be heard by the Supreme Court failed, leaving him no more legal options.
Now, he has “exhausted all his legal options against the Justice Department’s pursuit of him under the controversial Espionage Act,” reports The Guardian this month. If pursued, Risen could end up in jail for his act of “journalistic defiance” as early as this fall, reports the Guardian.
Journalists are rallying to Risen’s side as he becomes a media darling for his defiance in the face of Obama administration pressure. Fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners have issued statements in support of him, 100,000 petitioners have voiced their concerns about his case to the Department of Justice, and The Washington Post editorial board has come to his defense.
But one of the disturbing developments of the Risen case is the push for a media shield law to create special protections for journalists. “The Risen case, [Gregg] Leslie [of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press] said, provides a clear picture for why a federal shield law is needed to complement similar laws in 49 states,” reported Business Insider on August 27. “The Supreme Court’s dismissal of his petition, Leslie said, is more evidence of what he called a ‘disturbing’ trend—federal courts have been less and less willing to side with reporters’ arguments.”
This is not the first time the media have called for a shield law. Back in 2008 Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid called the proposed law what it really is: not the Free Flow of Information Act, but the “Special Rights for Journalists Act.” “The bill puts in the hands of federal politicians and judges the ability to define a ‘legitimate’ journalist or blogger who is deserving of federal protection,” wrote Kincaid in 2008. “As such, it restricts First Amendment rights to a certain group of people currently in favor with federal authorities.”
The legislation could create an unhealthy relationship between the media and the federal government.