52 media groups protest DOJ’s Associated Press action

Politico: More than 50 major media organizations on Tuesday sent a letter to the Department of Justice protesting the seizure of two months of The Associated Press’ phone records and calling for the department to “mitigate the damage it has caused.”

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney James M. Cole, the organizations — which include POLITICO and Allbritton Communications Company — ask that the DOJ return the secretly subpoenaed phone records and explain how government lawyers “overreached so egregiously in this matter.”

The department should also announce any other pending media-related subpoenas and publicly disclose additional information about who has had access to the AP phone records, the groups wrote.

“The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case,” the letter from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 51 other news organizations including Advance Publications, Cox Media Group, The McClatchy Company, The New York Times Company and NPR, among many others, stated.

The media organizations also noted that no one could “remember an instance where such an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials was deployed by the Department, particularly without notice to the affected reporters or an opportunity to seek judicial review” in the 30 years since the department issued guidelines about its subpoena practices for journalists’ phone records. [Continue reading…]

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