It has been 30 days since Eric Holder called a secret meeting with a compliant press to get their input on when, and under what circumstances, they would like to be wiretapped by secret court order. A few days ago he released his new policy governing when the press could be wiretapped in order to prosecute reporters and their sources. The government-approved mainstream press uniformly thanked the Attorney General for only ignoring the Constitution a tiny little bit when it comes to them. They uniformly failed to note that the entire world is being bulk wiretapped, thus rendering said guidelines completely irrelevant. They also failed to note that the Attorney General has quietly appropriated the Right to define who and what the press is for the first time in history.
As reported by Emptywheel, the new Justice Department policy defines news media as “persons and organizations that gather, report or publish news, whether through traditional means (e.g., newspapers, radio, magazines, news service) or the on-line or wireless equivalent.” Not included are bloggers, independent journalists, and social media journalists. Under the guise of granting the press greater freedom, the Attorney General has appropriated the right to define who is and who is not press, in order to decide when to spy on them, prosecute them, or kill them.
Despite the fact that the Free Press has continuously been a print publication for 43 years, the mainstream press routinely refers to our national reporting as a blog until corrected. It usually does so when forced to acknowledge stories that are broken here first, such as some of our coverage of electronic election fraud.
The First Amendment is clear and unambiguous. For the remedial benefit of the secret policemen wiretapping our readers’ web traffic it reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Attorney General has cleverly made an end run around this prohibition by appropriating the power to allow a committee of his bureaucratic underlings to define the who the press is and is not.
Throughout the last month of revelations by Edward Snowden via Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian and O Globo, the American press has obediently parroted the government's line that he is a spy and criminal rather than a whistleblower and chosen to focus on him personally rather than on his revelations. The press in the rest of the world has chosen a different path as noted by Greenwald himself.
America's ever-growing secret police state seems to be bolstered by a compliant corporate media. It is soon to be further emboldened by official government media as well. Since 1948, the State Department has been prohibited from broadcasting propaganda such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe in the United States. These programs were considered an important part of American public diplomacy.
Somali language programing made by the United States government and broadcast into Somalia from US military bases to counter anti-American messages may now be rebroadcast on Somali language stations in the US, for instance. An unnamed source quoted by Foreignpolicy.com explained the benefits of lifting the 65-year-old restriction "Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn't get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia," the source said. "It was silly."
In a single month we have gone from having a free but compliant corporate press to a Justice Department-regulated and State Department-sponsored press. When media criticizes itself, it often does so over the banality of its focus on celebrity, it is rarely for its routine trading of compliance for access. That trade, once optional, seems to become increasingly mandatory, despite the lapdog media's recent praise for Eric Holder granting them a leash that is a few feet longer.