Previously published in a centrist way over at Krebscycle.
The hysteria over Fox "news" being investigated for breaking the Espionage Act is based on a lie about what's normal in US law and politics. In the imaginary world the Free Press "normally" reports by soliciting highly secret documents from government officials covering covert and diplomatic operations and the government - because of respect for the first amendment - shrugs and winks. In the real world we live in the corporate Press has a double standard: acting with great caution and deference when the Republicans are in power and, normally, with impunity and under protection of powerful forces in the bureaucracy and judiciary when the Democrats are in power. The real departure from normality is that the Obama Administration has not, at least so far, been intimidated into rolling over - like the Clinton and Carter administrations were.
Remember the tough reporting of the New York Times during the Bush II administration? The one year delay, past the elections, of reporting on Bush's spying on ordinary citizens under the claim that that war authorizations for Iraq and Afghanistan made the Constitution irrelevant? The Iraq war hype from Judy Miller and her gullible/complicit editors? The apparently bottomless appetite for fake security scares with those ridiculous color codes? Remember how the Times broke that Abu Ghraib story ? No? It didn't. The Army revealed that it was conducting an investigation, then that some soldiers had been arrested, and then months later the US Press finally reported to the US public what had been public knowledge in Iraq. What about the reporting done on the Iran/Contra story during Reagan's administration by persuading officials to violate the Espionage Act? Oh, nope. Iran/Contra surfaced in reports from Iranian and Lebanese sources and Americans were, as usual, among the last to know.
On the other hand, this imaginary normal is a standard part of the privileged liberal line. Mat Taibbi told us that the failure to prosecute bankers called into question the normal, fair and equal rules of property that used to exist in America before the evil Obama era. Jeremy Scahill regularly pretends that civilians were never harmed by US overseas military actions before January 2009 when the US began to violate "International Law". William Black has made a career out of pretending that high level Wall Street bankers were prosecuted for financial crimes during the Reagan administration! We are constantly being told that the "rule of law" is being shockingly violated in a country where the gross racial and class injustices of the system of law must require a huge effort of imagination to pretend away.
And that must be why "liberals" who have hardly noticed Eric Holder's heroic efforts to bring back the Department of Justice's civil rights enforcement from the grave where Bush buried it are so vigorously defending the "right" of the Republican Party, I mean, Fox News, to solicit open violations of the Espionage Act and sabotage US intelligence operations. "Holder must go" we are told by people who seem to not either care or be able to think about how the Voting Rights Act would be defended during a GOP filibuster of a replacement Attorney General. And all of this posturing is done with such a high level of "principled" indignation that one has to laugh.