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“I Don’t Care if You F–k an Elephant on Your Personal Time, but Then You Can’t Cover the Circus for the Paper”

Sunday, June 10, 2018 11:03
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Michael Goodwin writes at The New York Post,

Pure hatred of this president in newsrooms across America is blinding editors and reporters to basic fairness and glaring conflicts of interest.

Public trust in the media is at an all-time low, and this case illustrates a seedy link between the Washington press corps and the Washington swamp.

He is writing about the case involving James Wolfe, the longtime security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Federal prosecutors charged Wolfe with three counts of lying to investigators about his contacts with reporters, one of whom is Ali Watkins, who covers federal law enforcement for the Times.

The feds allege that Wolfe used encrypted phone apps and other tools to leak secret information. One article cited was written by Watkins on April 3, 2017, when she worked for BuzzFeed, and involved Carter Page. Part of the orgy of leaks targeting President Trump, the article says Page “met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative” in 2013.

As part of the probe into Wolfe, the government seized e-mail and phone records belonging to Watkins, although it reportedly has not accessed the contents. Nonetheless, the Times and others reacted with outrage, saying the seizure threatens a free press.

…“All leak investigations — whether they directly target reporters or not — are a grave threat to press freedom,” the Freedom of the Press Foundation said in a statement. “Whistleblowers are the lifeblood of reporting, and the Trump administration is directly attacking journalists’ rights by bringing these cases.”

I agree that any government action that chills free expression is worrisome, but the First Amendment is not a license to break the law. As such, the foundation’s condemnation is so wrong-headed that it serves only to undercut support for media freedom.

Moreover, the suggestion that Wolfe was a whistleblower is not based on known facts. There is, however, strong evidence that he was leaking secured information to reporters, including his lover, ­although he is charged so far only with lying.

While many details remain unknown, it is already clear that Watkins’ highly unethical conduct pre­sents a problem for press defenders. Hers is not the hill they should volunteer to die on.
Start with the fact that Watkins admits she was sleeping with Wolfe when she covered his Senate panel for BuzzFeed and Politico.

Although sexual relationships with sources are taboo at most large news organizations, editors at BuzzFeed and Politico said they knew about Watkins’ relationship with Wolfe, but allowed her to continue covering the panel.

The admission is shocking yet not surprising given the collapse of journalism standards in the age of Trump. Pure hatred of this president in newsrooms across America is blinding editors and reporters to basic fairness and glaring conflicts of interest.

Public trust in the media is at an all-time low, and this case illustrates a seedy link between the Washington press corps and the Washington swamp.

Read more here.

 

 



Source: http://bobagard.blogspot.com/2018/06/i-dont-care-if-you-fk-elephant-on-your.html

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