Media

eBay founder says Holder's DOJ inspired him to get involved in news business

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Urban League annual conference, Thursday, July 25, 2013, in Philadelphia. Holder announced Thursday the Justice Department is opening a new front in the battle for voting rights in response to a Supreme Court ruling that dealt a major setback to voter protections. Holder said the Justice Department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain approval in advance before putting future voting changes in place. (AP)

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay who recently announced he would be putting at least $250 million into a startup news outlet  focusing on technology and privacy, says it was actions by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department that moved him to get into the journalism business.

"A number of things happened," Omidyar told the New York Times. "Even before the [Edward] Snowden leaks, we saw a number of what I would characterize as missteps by the Justice Department."

Omidyar continued: "We saw the Justice Department wiretap the A.P. newsroom. We saw [Fox News reporter James] Rosen being labeled as co-conspirator label in affidavits; we see the many leak prosecutions including the use of the Espionage Act. It alerted me to the fact that even in this great country of ours with this fantastic Constitution, there’s a real pressure against press freedoms that’s going on. Perhaps unintentionally in the hot pursuit of leakers and trying to protect secrets, we are really putting pressure on press freedom here. When you have mass surveillance, it’s impossible to meet the intent of the First Amendment because reporters can’t talk to sources because sources are afraid to talk."

Omidyar's new venture will feature former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who broke several stories related to government spying techniques.

@eScarry

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