May 3, 2017

FBI director wants to choose what is "legitimate" news media

Huffington Post - WikiLeaks isn’t a “legitimate” publisher in the same way that traditional news outlets are, FBI Director James Comey said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.

The Department of Justice has long avoided prosecuting “newsgathering and legitimate news reporting” as a criminal act, Comey said. Instead, the DOJ focuses on the leaker, not the outlet that publishes the information.

The comments might have been reassuring to the news media in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly leaving the door open to prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information ― or in other words, doing their jobs. But Comey drew a sharp distinction between what he considers “legitimate” news reporting and the activities of WikiLeaks, an organization that identifies itself as a publisher even if its methods differ from traditional news outlets.

“All of us care deeply about the First Amendment and the ability of a free press to get information about our work and publish it,” Comey said. “To my mind, it crosses a line when it moves from being about trying to educate a public and instead just becomes about intelligence porn, frankly.”

Comey said during the hearing that he believed “a huge portion of WikiLeaks’ activities has nothing to do with legitimate newsgathering, informing the public, commenting on important public controversies, but is simply about releasing classified information to damage the United States of America.”

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