Last week, news broke that the Justice Department obtained records from AP for its investigation into an internal leak. Now, details are emerging about an investigation of a Fox News reporter that some experts say could harm investigative journalism even more.
Associated Press reporters are not alone. One week after news broke that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records from AP, more news has emerged about the Obama administration’s campaign to silence leaks.
This time, it’s new details about a 2010 Justice Department investigation into a Fox News correspondent who reported government secrets on North Korea. The twist is that in the Fox News case, the government is suggesting that the reporter broke the law and criminal charges could result.
The news points to how the Obama administration is going to unprecedented lengths to defend secrets – prosecuting more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the crackdown is having an effect, with AP saying some of its sources are falling silent. But that success could come at the expense of the newsgathering and investigative-reporting process that the Founding Fathers saw as a crucial check on federal power.
The Fox News case, in particular, suggests the “criminalization of investigative journalism,” writes Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian, a British newspaper.