Guest Post: State Dept Launches "Free The Press" Campaign As DoJ Tries To Jail Reporter

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Trevor Timm via The Freedom of the Press Foundation,

The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual "Free the Press" campaign today, which will purportedly highlight "journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting." A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

Politico's Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department filed a legal brief today urging the Supreme Court to reject Risen's petition to hear his reporter's privilege case, in which the Fourth Circuit ruled earlier this year that James Risen (and all journalists) can be forced to testify against their sources without any regard to the confidentiality required by their profession. This flies in the face of common law precedent all over the country, as well as the clear district court reasoning in Risen's case in 2012. (The government's Supreme Court brief can be read here.)

Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee commendably grilled the State Department spokesman about the contradiction of its press freedom campaign and the James Risen case at today's briefing on the State Department initiative, repeatedly asking if the government considers press freedom issues in the United States the same way it does abroad. The full transcript is below.

As Gerstein noted, "The Justice Department brief is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists," and if the Justice Department succeeds "it could place President Barack Obama in the awkward position of presiding over the jailing of a journalist in an administration the president has vowed to make the most transparent in history."

The government does mention it is working with Congress to craft a reporter's shield bill, which should give you some indication that the proposed bill is at best a watered-down, toothless version of what many courts have offered journalists for decades, and that would be no help to James Risen—the exact type of reporter that we should be attempting to protect the most. It's important to remember that in Risen's case, the government has previously analogized reporter's privilege to a criminal receiving drugs from someone and refusing to testify about it.

We'll have more on both the shield law and the Risen case soon, but it's clear that the US government still refuses to walk the walk when providing journalists the protections it claims to believe in.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, maybe the State Department can use its "Free the Press" campaign to put pressure on one of its staunchest allies, the United Kingdom, which is using terrorism laws to suppress acts of journalism—something the State Department has condemned many times in the past.

Here's the full interaction between the AP's Matthew Lee and the State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki on James Risen and US press freedom at today's State Department briefing:

JENNIFER PSAKI: One more announcement for all of you: With World Press Freedom Day around the world on May 3rd, the department will launch its third annual Free the Press campaign later this afternoon in New York at the U.S. U.N. mission. Beginning on Monday and all of next week, we will highlight emblematic cases of imperiled reporters and media outlets that have been targeted, oppressed, imprisoned or otherwise harassed because of their professional work. The first two cases will be announced by Assistant Secretary -- Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski later at the -- at U.S. U.N. And we invite you of course to follow Tom at Twitter, who has -- on Twitter who, as you all know, was just confirmed several weeks, @Malinowski and to keep up with human rights issues on DRL's website.

With that --


Q: Sure. Just on that, reporters who are, what, harassed? I'm sorry --


MS. PSAKI: Targeted, oppressed, imprisoned or otherwise harassed.


Q: Otherwise harassed. Does that include those who may have been targeted, harassed, imprisoned and otherwise whatever by the United States government?


MS. PSAKI: I'm --


Q: No?


MS. PSAKI: I think you're familiar with our Free the Press campaign, Matt, but --


Q: Fair enough. So it does not include those who might have been harassed by --


MS. PSAKI: We highlight, as we often do, where we see issues with media freedom around the world.


Q: Right, I understand. But you would say that you don't -- the U.S. does not believe that it has a problem with press freedom, or if it does, that it's not nearly as severe as the problems in other countries.


MS. PSAKI: We do not. I think we can look at many of the problems --


On media press freedom?

Oh. Go ahead. And then we'll go to you, (Paul ?).

Did you have another question on media press freedom, or --



Q: If I could just go back to the overall, in general, the administration does not regard attempting to prosecute American journalists as an infringement of press freedom?


MS. PSAKI: I'm not sure which case you're -- what you're referring to.


Q: Well, there's several cases that are out there right now. The one that comes -- springs to mind is the James Risen case, where the Justice Department is attempting to prosecute. I just want to be clear. I'm not trying to --


MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I --


Q: I just want to know if you regard that as an infringement on press freedom or not. And I suspect that you do not, but I want to make sure that that's the case.


MS. PSAKI: As you know, and I'll, of course, refer to the Department of Justice, but the leaking of classified information is in a separate category. What we're talking about here, as you all know and unfortunately we have talk about on a regular basis here, is the targeting of journalists, the arrests, the imprisonment for simply exercising their ability to tell the story.


Q: Right. I understand that. And we're all, I'm sure, myself and all my colleagues, we're very appreciative of that.

But the reporters in question here have not leaked the information; they simply published it. So is it correct, then, that you don't believe -- you don't regard that as an infringement of press freedom?


MS. PSAKI: We don't. I don't have anything more to say on that case.


Q: OK.


MS. PSAKI: Do we have a new topic?


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earleflorida's picture

We? The USSA, are now officially a--  'Totalitarian/Fascist' whatever name you call it,  overlords... today and forever with a timestamp '911'!0

mission accomplished 

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

Par for the course with that kind of name. "Affordable care act". "Patriot act" "Whistleblower protection" "national defense authorization act"

LetThemEatRand's picture

"I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it

Pressure pressure pressure pressure

(Know that you were doing wrong)

Pressure drops, oh pressure pressure pressure pressure

(Know that you were doing wrong)"

-Toots And The Maytals - Pressure Drop 

Oh regional Indian's picture

For many years, especially once I'd been/lived int he US and seen through the facade, I realized how broken all those annual reports about corrupt countries were.

COnflating a nations (people) with it's rulers (oligarchs) has been a master move by the Bernaysists of the world.

There is the Govern Ment (Mind Governors) and then there are the governed. Both are not the country. 

THe hypocricy of the western controllers is staggering.


kaiserhoff's picture

Some things you will never see criticized by the American media.

Vote fraud.

Multi-generational welfare.

kleptocrat wages and benefits.

Illegal aliens.

Abuse of power by the government.

Attacks on white people.

Bigotry in the media is expressed, not so much in what they say, as in what they choose to ignore.  These are the issues I hear discussed all day, every day, but never by the talking heads.

chubbar's picture

We aren't going to hear the end of the racist remark from a basketball team owner. Not a word will be written about black on white "knockout" attacks occuring all over the U.S. every day. If it doesn't fit the narrative the MSM have orders to convey, it isn't covered, period!

boogerbently's picture

I thought they were going to CHANGE the Amendment with just 5 little words.
So, journalists can still have freedom of speech, as long as they are "in the military", right ? 

Chuck Walla's picture

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” 


 Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda



Oh regional Indian's picture

Bingo CHuck, hidden in plain sight!


fonestar's picture

Satoshi, you take away the sins of the virtual world!


Ignatius's picture

They don't leave elections to chance so why would the press be different?

The 'Press Freedom Bill'... gee, isn't that addressed in the First Amendment?  It says something like "keepa your fucking hands off", though I forget the exact wording.

kaiserhoff's picture

Some non Jewish media in America would be a start.

A really good start.

Flux's picture

I have to say that Matthew Lee has some balls, he was the same cat who grilled that bimbo on Edward Snowden.

I'm surprised he hasn't been shipped off to some torture prison somewhere.


piliage's picture

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

El Oregonian's picture

Ah, the reporter must have forgotten to carry his 'little red book' in order to receive such a harsh reprimand.

Van Halen's picture

"Free The Press"?

Hysterical! The US press are willing slaves to the Obama administration.

edotabin's picture

And now they are perfect examples of what happens to useful idiots.

Rakshas's picture

Perhaps the best evidence of support of Free the Press..... the spirit........from the body...

Cacete de Ouro's picture

If I say anything about those Israeli art students and 9/11, I might as well clear my desk....

Seer's picture

Yeah, this only started during/for this administration.

Got Yellow Cake?

Rakshas's picture

"....... his head could be seen to move violently forward...."


free press ...... not even trying to maintain the illusion an longer, haven't been for a long long looooooooong time...... can't even muster a cynical laugh any longer....

nmewn's picture

Matt Lee, at least we have one left in the cesspool of "journalism reportage" that is statist propaganda, that passes for something worthy of public news.

Kudos to you sir, all I have to offer you is the acknowledgement of your honor, integrity, character and the use of my shower & soap for having to wade through what you after day.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I do not have the information handy right now, but a reporter recently asked someone at the State Department to name ONE THING that Hillary had accomplished or done well.  The State Dept. guy/gal heemd & hawwed.  The reporter asked again for JUST ONE SPECIFIC ACCOMPLISHMENT...

Crickets...  So, it looks like Hillary has very little record to run on.

What did she do as Senator from New York, I can't remember anything, but f she did do something worthwhile, please jump in with a comment!

erg's picture

Thinking...she tried to avoid having her make-up shotgun set to whore.

Van Halen's picture

DoChen, I respectfully ask you to recall one thing Obama had accomplished or done well. Not to mention if anyone can even recall Obama in many of the places he claimed to have lived and went to school.

My point being that it makes no difference whether the candidate has done anything. It's what the voters, uninformed and stupid as they are, wish and imagine the candidate COULD do.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture



Hmm, OK...  Obama did do the below, which I disagree with in all cases:

1) He rammed ObamaCare through.

2) He got his two lefty-ites onto the Supreme Court.

3) He beat the Republicans in the Budget / .gov threatened shutdown.

4) He muffed his chance to show the world the head of Osama bin Laden, even though he purportedly (hey, he probably did) had OBL killed by our Special Forces.  But, dumping his body unseen into the Indian Ocean is what launched me into the Tinfoil Hat Brigade.  

                   ^--- Just in case anyone was wondering...  :)

nmewn's picture

In the infamous words of Hitllary herself, I believe it was:

"I don't recall."...concerning cattle futures, Madison Guarantee S&L and land grabs with the McDougall law firm.

"What difference does it make..."...seems to be the latest iteration of that.

But only Norman Hsu knows for sho ;-)

erg's picture

"National security" being the blanket response of last resort to hide some governmental misdeed.

nmewn's picture

The appeal to patriotism has ALWAYS the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Can't remember who originally said it but it has never been truer.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

I always liked the mark twain line about patriotism : "patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it"

Also "if voting made any difference, they'd make it illegal"

Oh regional Indian's picture

Twain was something else, thanks for sharing those GC.

Fred Hayek's picture

It was Samuel Johnson who uttered that timeless line in 1775.

Rakshas's picture

..... the security and secrecy of the National government  would be the meaning of that..... after all the greatest enemy the USSA faces comes from its own citizenry ever waking up from thier big pharma enhanced MKULTRA  stupor..... before the Monsanto enhanced FED funded genetic mutations are complete....

Element's picture



"I don't recall."


Perhaps she misspoke? ... channeled Ronald? ... maybe a flashback from the trauma of running sniper ally? ... could possibly even be a lie? She came, she saw, she lied.

kaiserhoff's picture

"I have no independent recollection,"

when she got caught holding illegal back room meetings about Hillary care, but I'll bet she remembers every one of Slick Willy's bimbos, and will never let him forget.

mccvilb's picture

I only remember how she often had caused traffic to shut down in Boston during the height of the Big Dig.

On more than one occasion she came rolling into the Park Plaza Hotel, giving the surprised hoi polloi the old one handed limp-wristed Queen Elizabeth wave from the back of a limosine motorcade, ostentatiously surrounded by around a dozen Boston PD motorcycle cops roaring in in order to properly to announce her presence. Bill wasn't the only one maintaining grass root connections. I'll leave the reasons for her many solo visits for you to figure out.

Mayor Menino made a lot of political hay with that motorcade perk. I think it's where Gore acquired his addiction, if you recall from his An Inconvenient Truth fictumentary.

MsCreant's picture

Depends on your definition of accomplishment, dear sir.

She helped get Bill elected. There was a lot of closed door politicking and lawyerly gangster action behind that.

She put up with all the whores.

She put up with him sexually harassing all those women who did not want the attention and covered for it when they complained.

She stood by her man in the face of all that pubic humiliation.

She put up with Bill mounting her so that they could have Chelsea. 

She has put up with one hell of a lot.

It's just her turn, NOOOOOW! Or else all the bodies start to surface. Mwah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, haaaaa!

Dr. Sandi's picture

So Hilly is really Tammy Wynette?