Holder Signed Off on Rosen Warrant

Posted on May 23, 2013 by

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Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on the Department of Justice’s request for a warrant to search and seize the electronic communications of Fox News reporter James Rosen. According to NBC News‘ Michael Isikoff, based on information just obtained, Holder affirmed the decision. Meanwhile, today, President Obama claimed to be troubled by the possible chilling effect that government investigations might have on journalists’ ability to hold the government accountable. “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”

What does this tell us?

First, President Obama parsed his words very carefully. James Rosen was never at legal risk, technically, because the Department of Justice never, as far as we know, intended to charge Rosen. In this sense, he has not been at legal risk. Rosen has, however, been subjected to the kind of scrutiny we associate with criminal investigations, no matter the intent behind the decision to investigate him.

Second, my guess is this is the beginning of the end for Mr. Holder. Even the Huffington Post agrees (their current headline is TIME TO GO) this would be the most prudent outcome. The NBC News story relies on a “law enforcement official” While it is possible this is well-motivated whistle-blower, it is equally possible this is a planted story that begins to prepare Mr. Holder’s exit from the national stage. Holder would become, then, the proffered sacrifice, tossed into the midst of a media maelstrom with the hope of abatement. Will Holder be enough?

Third, the media continues to thump the President’s scandalous trio–AP/Reporter Intimidation, IRS, and Benghazi. Even more than napalm (bonus points for anyone under 30 properly identifying this reference), I love the smell of newsprint in the morning. The media ought to be dogged in its adversarial role. We, the People, require it. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Black, White, or Purple, the Press should leap at all administrations with fangs bared and throats full of fury.

Of course, we hope the Press is balanced enough to tell good news when it is appropriate, we require it to be predisposed toward criticism that borders on cynicism. Only then can we, as voters, begin to smell the truth and distinguish it from spin.

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