What is ordinary about “ordinary newsgathering”? That question was at the heart of discussions Tuesday between Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and a group of media representatives over rules that guide federal prosecutors in their pursuit of leaks of classified information.
The Justice Department is taking an extra step to bolster its support of TV networks in their U.S. Supreme Court case argument that Aereo is illegally retransmitting local TV station signals. U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who previously filed a friend of the court brief siding with broadcasters, is now asking to be allowed to argue his view endorsing TV networks stance during high court oral arguments in the case April 22.
The Department of Justice asked Gannett and Belo for more information about Gannett’s $1.5 billion purchase of Belo, the companies said Friday. Announced in June, the merger would double Gannett’s TV station portfolio and create the nation’s fourth largest owner of “big four” network affiliates. Gannett played down the DOJ’s second request as a “standard part of the DOJ review process” and reiterated that the company expects to close the transaction by the end of the year. Still, a second request can soak up a lot of time.
Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, appeared with The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward and The Daily Beast’s Daniel Klaidman on CBS’s Face The Nation. Abramson on the DOJ’s leaks investigations: “In all of these cases I think the important thing is there’s supposed to be a balance between the needs to prosecute leakers and a free press. And it appears that in the pursuit of these cases … that balance doesn’t seem to have been applied inside the department.”
There is an ongoing legal case that raises the same protection-of-sources-issues that have been debated in the media firestorm surrounding the DOJ’s pursuit of AP and Fox News sources.
President Obama told the country that he didn’t want to criminalize reporting, and that he was going to ask his Justice Department to make sure not to do that anymore. To that end he is going to convene a panel, and urge the passage of a shield law. The question is, what will he do about Attorney General Eric Holder?
News Corp. said on Monday it is still reviewing whether it has any record of a notification from the United States government involving a subpoena for a Fox News reporter’s phone records.
Leonard Downie: “The Obama administration’s steadily escalating war on leaks, the most militant I have seen since the Nixon administration, has disregarded the First Amendment and intimidated a growing number of government sources of information — most of which would not be classified — that is vital for journalists to hold leaders accountable.”
The Obama Justice Department seized the phone records of numbers that are associated with White House staffers and, apparently, with Fox News reporters, according to a document filed in the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. Kim is a former State Department contractor accused of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking classified information to James Rosen, a Fox News reporter. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia has seized records associated with two phone numbers at the White House, at least five numbers associated with Fox News, and one that has the same area code and exchange as Rosen’s personal-cell-phone number.
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material. They used security badge access records to track Fox chief Washington correspondent James Rosen’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012.
The Justice Department gives a greenlight to the deal between Verizon and a consortium of cable companies to move forward on swapping wireless spectrum. But there are conditions.
Verizon’s controversial plan to purchase spectrum from cable companies appears likely to win approval from the FCC. But the Justice Department also must sign off on the deal before it can go through, and that agency reportedly has concerns about whether the deal will harm consumers.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging antitrust investigation into whether cable companies are acting improperly to quash nascent competition from online video. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal says Justice officials have spoken to several online video providers, including Netflix and Hulu and have also questioned Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other cable companies about issues such as setting limits on the amount of data a subscriber can download each month. Journal subscribers can read the story here.
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission made the announcement today. Justice is filing a civil suit against the Comcast chairman, but with the proposed settlement agreement that includes the fine. Officials went after him because this is the third time Roberts failed to report that he had been granted stock above a government-set threshold that required him to make an official disclosure.
Federal regulators aren’t expected to decide this week on whether to approve a merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, as they weigh placing conditions on Internet access, as well as other requirements, according to sources familiar with the reviews.