Mike Rogers Aims to Criminalize One of the Main Things that Affords Journalists Protections: Getting Paid

Remember DOJ’s efforts to placate journalists (rather stunningly, in retrospect, rolled out a month after the first Edward Snowden leaks)?

As I noted at the time, DOJ’s new protections for the press applied not to the act of journalism, but rather to members of the news media. DOJ’s own Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide requires institutional affiliation before they’ll treat someone as a journalist.

“News media” includes 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. A “member of the media” is a person who gathers, reports, or publishes news through the news media.

[snip]

As the term is used in the DIOG, “news media” is not intended to include persons and entities that simply make information available. Instead, it is intended to apply to a person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the general public, uses editorial skills to turn raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience, as a journalism professional. [my emphasis]

According to the DOJ, then, you have to get paid (preferably by an institution recognized to be a press) to be afforded heightened First Amendment protection as a journalist.

Except now House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers wants to criminalize that — one of the main things that warrants you protection by DOJ as a journalist, getting paid — by calling it “fencing stolen material.”

REP. ROGERS: You — there have been discussions about selling of access to this material to both newspaper outlets and other places. Mr. Comey, to the best of your knowledge, is fencing stolen material — is that a crime?

DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: Yes, it is.

REP. ROGERS: And would be selling the access of classified material that is stolen from the United States government — would that be a crime?

DIR. COMEY: It would be. It’s an issue that can be complicated if it involves a news-gathering and news promulgation function, but in general, fencing or selling stolen property is a crime.

REP. ROGERS: So if I’m a newspaper reporter for — fill in the blank — and I sell stolen material, is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?

[snip]

REP. ROGERS: And if I’m hocking stolen classified material that I’m not legally in possession of for personal gain and profit, is that not a crime?

DIR. COMEY: I think that’s a harder question because it involves a news-gathering functions — could have First Amendment implications. It’s something that probably would be better answered by the Department of Justice.

REP. ROGERS: So entering into a commercial enterprise to sell stolen material is acceptable to a legitimate news organization?

DIR. COMEY: I’m not sure I’m able to answer that question in the abstract.

REP. ROGERS: It’s something we ought to think about, is it not?

DIR. COMEY: Certainly.

So you’re not a journalist (and get no protections) if you don’t get paid. But if you do get paid, you’re fencing stolen property.

I do hope the traditional press recognizes the danger in this stance.

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15 Responses to Mike Rogers Aims to Criminalize One of the Main Things that Affords Journalists Protections: Getting Paid

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bmaz @WesleyLowery @SariHorwitz In fairness, nobody who actually understands CRD jurisdiction ever thought there would be charges.
8mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @the_intercept @ggreenwald You should put a link to the media petition in that post.
20mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @iMusing: Fuck this shit: Boys get chemistry, engineering & astronomy. Girls get science with a sparkle http://t.co/8Bd1aKcO0b Via @abso
44mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @RKTlaw I have I think, but can't remember where.
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Javakev Welp, gonna be hard, he is running unopposed.
55mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Javakev Far as I can tell, he was last reelected in 2010 and is up for reelection right now.
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bmaz No ordinary grand jury is EVER conducted the way McCulloch is conducting the #MikeBrown grand jury. Never.
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bmaz Bob McCulloch's biased+conflicted antics in handling #MikeBrown grand jury are an embarrassment to justice system. People should be outraged
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bmaz But when it comes to fairness and justice for the actual victim, #MikeBrown, Bob McCulloch is apparently willing to do nothing.
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bmaz So, Bob McCulloch will do EVERYTHING imaginable to give "fairness" to Darren Wilson, things he admits even he has NEVER done before.
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bmaz With a larger grand jury panel, eliminating one juror would not create nearly the damage to credibility it will for #MikeBrown GJ grand jury
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bmaz By eliminating a grand juror, only 11 would be left and the percentage necessary to indict goes up from 75% to 82%. McClloch prob likes that
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