Journalist Says DOJ Targeting Him For His Aggressive Post-Jan. 6 Commentary
Authored by Joseph M. Hanneman via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Independent journalist Steve Baker says he was recently warned that his aggressive reporting and commentary about Jan. 6 have created growing ire at the U.S. Department of Justice that could lead to his prosecution for being at the Capitol on that fateful Wednesday in 2021.
Since Jan. 6, Baker, 62, of Raleigh, North Carolina, went through two hours of FBI questioning and faced the looming specter of being added to the list of now more than 1,000 Jan. 6 criminal-case defendants.
He said his recent coverage of Jan. 6 cases and pointed criticisms of the DOJ have once again painted a target on him.
“I got a call from another journalist who has a friendly source inside the Department of Justice there in D.C.,” Baker told The Epoch Times.
“He called me up and said—this is a paraphrase, but he said—‘Your friend in Raleigh, tell him to be careful. He has awakened a couple of people’s attention to his work, and they’re not happy about it at all.’”
The ominous early-morning heads-up got Baker’s attention.
“First of all, when you get a call at 6:30 in the morning from somebody relaying that message, they must have thought that was really important to get a hold of me,” he said. “So the impact of the timing of the delivery was significant.
“The journalist who gave me the information has a very large national audience and would be the kind of person who would have those types of sources,” Baker said. “…So I had to take it seriously.”
The Epoch Times asked the U.S. Department of Justice for comment on Baker’s contention but did not receive a response.
Documented Intense Scenes
Baker spent much of Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., capturing video for his news-and-commentary blog, The Pragmatic Constitutionalist. He had a front-row view of some intense scenes, including the initial bombardment of munitions aimed by police at the huge crowd on the Capitol’s west front.
His video work appeared in Jan. 6 films by HBO, The New York Times, and The Epoch Times. It has been syndicated worldwide on Storyful.
Baker filmed the debut of a Metropolitan Police Department “hard squad” and the violence that broke out as the riot-gear-clad officers rolled and rumbled through the dense crowd like a bowling ball through a 10-pin set.
He stood in the corner of the Capitol’s south entrance as officers drew firearms near him and a group of protesters after a radio call about shots fired in the House of Representatives.
Baker’s outspokenness was on full display. He challenged two officers who drew their service weapons and shouted at unarmed protesters. The building was on high alert after reports that someone had been shot outside the Speaker’s Lobby.
“Are you going to use that on us?” Baker asked one USCP officer who charged at the group. “None of us have a gun. We’ve got cameras.”
As the officer explained why the dozen or so law-enforcement officials in the lobby had weapons ready, Baker intoned dryly, “The only shots fired have been fired by you guys.”
That statement turned out to be true. At the entrance to the House Speaker’s Lobby one floor above, USCP Lt. Michael Byrd shot unarmed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35. She died about a half-hour later.
What was displayed on Jan. 6 became a hallmark of Baker’s work covering the aftermath of the protests and violence at the Capitol. His analysis and commentary often cut to the quick.
‘Just Want the Truth’
On podcasts and social media, Baker says things most other journalists are afraid to say. He does not suffer fools gladly. That has earned him a growing following—and some critics—from various sides of his libertarian leanings.
He describes his approach to Jan. 6 as a drive for truth—partisanship and politics be damned. That’s a trait he learned from his father, George O. Baker, who spent more than 30 years as a private investigator based in Shreveport, Louisiana.
“I don’t care where the facts lead,” Baker said. “To Trump’s desk, Pelosi’s desk, darker forces within the government, left- or right-wing antagonists, or simply a grand organic accident.”
He said his latest focus has been “government incompetence that allowed it, or even a sinister plan to initiate the violence.”
“I just want the truth,” he said. “Now I’m focusing on the weaponization of the DOJ against the innocent people who’ve been caught up in the politicized aftermath.”
Baker said if he ends up facing DOJ prosecution for being at the Capitol, it will be just the latest example of the government targeting right-of-center journalists to the exclusion of so-called mainstream media.
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