In the Bush administration's on going war against our free press and our constitution, the Bush Justice Department attacked a proposed shield law that would extend the right to protect sources to bloggers. Clearly the progressive blogging advantage my good friend gatordem has been talking about is scaring the GOP.
WASHINGTON--The Bush administration on Thursday blasted a congressional proposal that would shield a broad swath of news gatherers, including some bloggers, from revealing their confidential sources.
The Bush "just us" Department would not attack extending the shield law to bloggers if progressives were not in the lead. They sure don't mind it covering the right wing talk radio folks.
Their stated fear (fear is always involved) is that someone could video tape a terrorist (their favorite fear) making a threat and that someone would be shielded.
"The definition is just so broad that it really includes anyone who wants to post something to the Web," Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing here. She also argued it would protect "a terrorist operative who videotaped a message from a terrorist leader threatening attacks on Americans."
The Bush administration's constant drum beat - terrorist, fear, terrorist, fear - echoes through every press conference and release. It is the one trick the Republican pony knows and it still entertains about 28% of Americans. Now, as they try to limit the rights of bloggers should we be surprised that fear of terrorism is the excuse? Of course not.
William Safire, a longtime New York Times columnist and former Nixon administration speech writer, praised the bill's current definition because he said it focuses on the actions characteristic of journalists, not their affiliations.
"Whether you're a blogger or whether you're The New York Times or CBS or The Wall Street Journal, if what you are doing is aimed at informing the public, then you're a journalist, whether you get paid for it or not," he said. (The New York Times, the National Association of Broadcasters and other journalism groups have endorsed the latest bill, according to its sponsors.)
Nice to see bloggers getting some respect from the mainstream media. I suggest we contact our elected representatives and let them know what we think.
Laws recognizing some form of "reporter's privilege" already exist in 49 states and the District of Columbia--but, crucially, do not shield journalists from federal prosecutors. The Bush Administration claims there's no evidence that source-related subpoenas to reporters are on the rise and argues that it already has robust internal guidelines, including a requirement that the attorney general (emphasis added) personally approve such subpoenas and provide an appropriate balance between press freedom and investigative needs.
Now that last sentence has got to make you either cringe or laugh right out loud.
Here endith the lesson.