What Is The Difference Between A Leaker And A Source?

Yesterday The New York Times reported the following:

…James A. Wolfe, 57,  (a former Senate Intelligence Committee Aide) was charged with lying repeatedly to investigators about his contacts with three reporters. According to the authorities, Mr. Wolfe made false statements to the F.B.I. about providing two of them with sensitive information related to the committee’s work. He denied to investigators that he ever gave classified material to journalists, the indictment said.

The article states:

Mr. Wolfe’s case led to the first known instance of the Justice Department going after a reporter’s data under President Trump. The seizure was disclosed in a letter to the Times reporter, Ali Watkins, who had been in a three-year relationship with Mr. Wolfe. The seizure suggested that prosecutors under the Trump administration will continue the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama.

…Court documents describe Mr. Wolfe’s communications with four reporters — including Ms. Watkins — using encrypted messaging applications. It appeared that the F.B.I. was investigating how Ms. Watkins learned that Russian spies in 2013 had tried to recruit Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser. She published an article for BuzzFeed News on April 3, 2017, about the attempted recruitment of Mr. Page in which he confirmed the contacts.

However, we are dealing with The New York Times, which is not above using very selective memory in spinning a story.

The article states:

Ms. Watkins’s personal lawyer, Mark J. MacDougall, said: “It’s always disconcerting when a journalist’s telephone records are obtained by the Justice Department — through a grand jury subpoena or other legal process. Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges.”

Poor Ms. Watkins. Let’s go back to the case of James Rosen.

The following was reported by Fox News on May 23, 2013:

Newly uncovered court documents reveal the Justice Department seized records of several Fox News phone lines as part of a leak investigation — even listing a number that, according to one source, matches the home phone number of a reporter’s parents.

The seizure was ordered in addition to a court-approved search warrant for Fox News correspondent James Rosen’s personal emails. In the affidavit seeking that warrant, an FBI agent called Rosen a likely criminal “co-conspirator,” citing a wartime law called the Espionage Act.

Rosen was not charged, but his movements and conversations were tracked. A source close to the leak investigation confirmed to Fox News that the government obtained phone records for several numbers that match Fox News numbers out of the Washington bureau.

Further, the source confirmed to Fox News that one number listed matched the number for Rosen’s parents in Staten Island.

A journalists right to report needs to be protected, but the leaks out of the Senate Intelligence Committee are ridiculous. There have been instances of matters not taken up by the Committee because the members knew that anything said would be leaked. I am not sure where we need to draw the line on investigating leakers, but it seems as if both the Obama administration and the Trump administration have used questionable methods to try to stop leaks.

Political Correctness Meets Mental Illness

Political correctness has become acceptable in recent years. Television shows that we watched as children or young adults would not be allowed on the air today. I loved the show “WKRP,” but I doubt that show would be allowed on the air today because of the stereotypes of women, blacks, disc jockeys, newscasters, etc. However, it was a very entertaining show because of the way the characters were drawn. It was not meant to offend any one group of people–it simply laughed at who we all are.

So what happens when a person who is mentally ill decides to take political correctness to its limit?

The New York Post posted a story today about the recent killing of a newswoman and a news cameraman in Virginia. The story is a clear illustration of political correctness run amok. The story also illustrates what happens when a disturbed person decides to be offended by something that is not meant to be offensive or that most of us would not consider offensive.

The article reports:

The words are a part of everyday conversation — “swinging” by an address and going out in the “field.”

But in the twisted mind of Virginia gunman Vester Lee Flanagan II, they were pure racism — and saying them became a death sentence for Alison Parker.

The 24-year-old white reporter, who was murdered on live TV along with her cameraman, used the phrases as an intern at ­WDBJ TV in Roanoke in 2012, according to an internal complaint filed by Flanagan, who was black.

“One was something about ‘swinging’ by some place; the other was out in the ‘field,’ ” said the Jan. 21 report by assistant news director Greg Baldwin, which refers to Parker as Alison Bailey (her middle name).

The article goes on to explain that Flanagan interpreted out in the ‘field’ as a reference to cotton fields. In his twisted mind, that was a racist statement.

The article further reports:

“This guy was a nightmare,” Fair (Trevor Fair, a 33-year-old cameraman at WDBJ for six years) said. “Management’s worst nightmare.”

Flanagan assumed everything was a jab at his race, even when a manager brought in watermelon for all employees.

“Of course, he thought that was racist. He was like, ‘You’re doing that because of me.’ No, the general manager brought in watermelon for the entire news team. He’s like, ‘Nope, this is out for me. You guys are calling me out because I’m black.’ ”

Flanagan even declared that ­7-Eleven was racist because it sold watermelon-flavored Slurpees.

“It’s not a coincidence, they’re racist,” he allegedly told Fair. 

How do you deal with a person who is constantly offended by the world around him? Do you refer him for mental testing? Do you put him on some sort of watch list? It seems to me that Flanagan was going to explode at some time. It is a shame that explosion could not have been prevented (without infringing on his civil rights).

The Senate’s Latest Attempt At Muzzling The Press

Senate Bill S987 is sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer. It is called the “Free Flow of Information Act of 2013.” The name is totally misleading.

According to Thomas.gov:

Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 – (Sec. 2) Prohibits a federal entity (an entity or employee of the judicial or executive branch or an administrative agency of the federal government with the power to issue a subpoena or other compulsory process), in any proceeding or in connection with any issue arising under federal law, from compelling a covered journalist to disclose protected information, unless a U.S. judge in the jurisdiction where the compulsory process has been or would be issued determines, after providing notice and an opportunity for the journalist to be heard, that all reasonable alternative sources have been exhausted and that separate specified conditions have been met depending on whether the matter is a criminal investigation or prosecution. (Thus, establishes a qualified privilege for journalists to withhold confidential information unless a judge makes a determination to compel disclosure under conditions that apply differently in criminal and civil matters.) (the bold italics are mine)

DaTechGuy posted an interesting article on this today.

DaTechGuy reports:

As we watch the spectacle of the mainstream media decide which internal investigations are believable (White House investigations on Benghazi & the IRS scandal) and which are not (Chris Christie Bridge Scandal) the Senate Judiciary Committee is advancing a bill “The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013” (S.987) that supposedly enhances freedom of the press by providing journalists with a legal shield in order to keep them from being forced to testify concerning sources.

While the actions of this administration might suggest a need of such a law, there is a huge catch in this bill that’s getting little play.  In order to determine who gets this shield privilege the bill devotes seven pages to define who a “journalist” and who is not.

In other words, this bill codifies the government’s the power to decide who is a legitimate journalist and who is not,  in effect licensing journalists.

DaTechGuy reminds us of where we would be if the government had declared that Matt Drudge was not a ‘covered’ journalist (remember the blue dress?) or Woodward and Bernstein were not ‘covered’ journalists. The White House already controls the press. There is no need to make it official.

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Editorial Compliance Equals Access

The German newspaper called Deutsche Welle posted a story last Thursday about the American media. The headline of the story was “US journalists trade independence for access.” The article points out that in Germany it is not unusual to require authorization before interviews can be published, but that America is moving in that direction.

The article reports:

But in the United States, the balance of power between the journalist and the politician has increasingly shifted in favor of the latter. According to a July 15 report by Jeremy W. Peters of the New York Times, political journalists in Washington are increasingly trading their editorial independence for high-level access to members of the Obama administration.

Quotes gleaned from administration officials by a reporter are not just reviewed by the publication’s editor, they are often sent to the very same officials for approval – and even redaction – before going to print.

According to Stephen Ward, there is a growing and unhealthy “pressure on journalists and … on news organizations to get the story, to be first, to be the first tweet.”

“The officials who know this are quite aware that in this era of 24 hours news, access is king,” Ward, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told DW. “This is just a game of access – it’s as old as journalism.”

Access may partially explain the leftward tilt of American journalism, but I think there is also another explanation. Since the 1960’s our colleges have shifted to the political left. They have reflected the political and social upheaval of that time. The professors of today are often the students of that era or were educated after the our college campuses turned left. The inmates are running the asylum.

The article concludes:

Ultimately, journalists must assume much of the responsibility for the weakening of their editorial independence, according to Ward. He argues that they have increasingly bought into a partisan political game that revels in scandal at the sake of context.

“We are never going to get rid of all the tweets and the 24-hour business – all the fast-food journalism that we are seeing,” Ward said. “But we can at the core of political discourse maintain certain sources of news and analysis that are informed and not breathless – (that are) thoughtful.”

Our republic depends on a honest mainstream media. It is distressing that at this time we have to turn to the alternative media for the truth.

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