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How the Justice Department's Seizure of a Reporter's Email Records Subverts the Free Press


How the Justice Department's Seizure of a Reporter's Email Records Subverts the Free Press

Josh Bell

It emerged late Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly seized years of email and phone records of a New York Times reporter in connection with a leak investigation. This marks a clear escalation of the Trump administration’s attempts to intimidate journalists and their sources. In doing so, it seems that the Justice Department may have violated its own policies for obtaining reporters’ communications — strict standards that are in place because of the importance the Constitution places on freedom of the press.


“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
–Lord Acton*

*He was not the first to express such sentiment, but did obey Shakespeare’s axiom that “brevity is the soul of wit”.


The GOP, especially Trump are doing Goebbels proud.


Free Press??? I am starved for real news. I look at publications from all over the country looking for accurate information. I find almost none. I find propaganda. I find disinformation. I find social programming. But I don’t find truth. I can count reliable publications on one hand and even some of those can sometimes be dubious. Common Dreams is perhaps, all things being considered, one of the best.

Then I go and look at the number of views Common Dreams receives and marvel at how so few others seem to feel the same as me. A couple thousand views for an article is a lot. In a country of over 350 million people, only a couple thousand can even find their way to the truth…it is how I know beyond all doubt, this country is doomed.


The free press and an independent judiciary are critical for maintaining US democracy. It seems clear from this action and past actions that Trump is taking aim at both. The Republicans have been chipping away at a another critical part of democracy, the ability of citizens to elect representatives by gerrymandering, voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, etc. Unlike in Germany in the 1930s which quickly became a fascist state, it looks like the right is using a strategy of slow changes to transform the US into a fascist state controlled by the right. Although there remains a concern that some sort of event will provoke a state of emergency being called and in attempt to end democracy abruptly.


We haven’t had a free press for decades, operation mockingbird never ended.