In a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney James M. Cole Tuesday, more than 50 major media organizations — dubbed the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — voiced their objections to the DOJ’s seizure of the Associated Press’ phone records. The join letter asked that the DOJ “mitigate the damage it has caused” and return the secretly subpoenaed records.
“The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case,” the letter from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 51 other news organizations including Advance Publications, Cox Media Group, The McClatchy Company, The New York Times Company and NPR, among many others, stated.
The media organizations also noted that no one could “remember an instance where such an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials was deployed by the Department, particularly without notice to the affected reporters or an opportunity to seek judicial review” in the 30 years since the department issued guidelines about its subpoena practices for journalists’ phone records.
On a related note, have you seen Media Matters’ defense of the DOJ? It is epic.