Don’t miss this excellent piece by Glenn Greenwald, which ran recently in The Guardian. In it, Greenwald — a lawyer, journalist, and prize-winning author — carefully builds a case about what the Obama administration is doing. In short, he argues that the DoJ (with Obama’s certain knowledge) is taking steps to make it a crime to do many of the activities that constitute investigative journalism. The focus is the case involving Fox News’ James Rosen, but most of these thoughts apply to many other cases as well.
This is something that all journalists, all political progressives, and all Obama supporters need to grasp. The president is wrong on this, and his people are out of control.
Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ – that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for “soliciting” the disclosure of classified information – is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.
That same “solicitation” theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the US government can “charge [Assange] as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.”
By Christopher B. Daly
Politics aside (now, how often do you see that phrase in a presidential campaign season?), let’s give Roger Ailes of Fox News his due. He did the following:
–had an original idea
–got someone else to fund his idea
–built a news outlet from scratch
–made it profitable
–made it hard to ignore
–took home $21 million in salary and bonuses from News Corp. last year.
On that set of facts, he deserves to be ranked with Horace Greeley, Ted Turner, or Arianna Huffington. (I know, I know: there are other facts that I have not introduced into evidence here. I’m just saying. . .)
Ailes, who is 72, signed a new contract with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. that extends his work life (and his ultimate control over Fox News) through the 2016 elections.
Roger Ailes (Jennifer S. Altman / LA Times)
By Christopher B. Daly
Today’s Times has an interesting (though somewhat thin) story about the relationship between president Obama and Fox News.
One thing caught my eye:
But now, with the presidential campaign entering its most competitive phase, the simmering tensions between Mr. Obama and the country’s highest-rated news channel threaten their fragile détente.
Problem is, Fox News is NOT the “country’s highest-rated news channel.” It is the highest-rated cable news channel, with about 1.3 million viewers. But it comes nowhere near the size of even the lowest-rated broadcast news channel. And it is still a tiny fraction of the combined audiences of ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS, which have well over 20 million viewers in all.
(Yes, there is a bit of an apples/oranges issue here, but, come on: Fox is in a different universe from the broadcast networks.)
(A further thought: in a nation of 300+ million people, does Fox News with 1.3 million viewers deserve the attention it gets?)
by Chris Daly
It looks that way, judging from his new interview in Rolling Stone. He was asked by RS founder/editor Jann Wenner for his opinion about Fox News. Here’s the relevant chunk:
What do you think of Fox News? Do you think it’s a good institution for America and for democracy?
[Laughs] Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.