The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 14, 2013

We strongly condemn DOJ’s overreaching actions

Enid News & Eagle

— Mondays are notoriously the worst day of the week.

Just ask President Barack Obama. He just experienced the worst day of his second term.

The commander in chief defended allegations of an administrative cover-up after last year’s Benghazi attacks. And Obama rebuked the IRS for targeting tea party groups.

Then came more bad news. The Associated Press reported the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of AP’s editors and reporters in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how media organizations gather the news.

For Attorney General Eric Holder, hump day may be worse than Monday. Holder will testify about AP and the IRS Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee.

The media strongly condemned the Justice Department’s overreaching actions, and rightfully so.

Not surprisingly, the Associated Press Media Editors Association criticized this seizure in the strongest possible terms, rightfully joining the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association and other journalists nationwide.

“In a continuing witch hunt for leaks and whistleblowers, the Obama administration has chosen to trample the First Amendment,” said APME President Brad Dennison. “Freely tossing around the word ‘transparency,’ as this administration is prone to do, does not make it so. This action clearly demonstrates that President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have absolutely no interest in an open and transparent government.”

We also join the APME in calling for implementation of a federal shield law.

This would protect journalists from revealing sources and documents, keeping confidential informants from being silenced by the threat of subpoena or federal prosecution. The federal government would have to convince a judge that the information sought outweighs the need to keep the information confidential.

“A shield law would keep lazy prosecutors from going after reporters’ notes and phone records,” said APME First Amendment Chair Teri Hayt, “and compel them to actually conduct investigations that do not step all over the First Amendment.”

Meanwhile, let the grilling season begin.