Misplaced Outrage

Dan Wardby Dan Ward

I’ve written many times about free speech issues, and have shared concern here about Justice Department intrusions on the freedom of the press.

That said, I’m having a hard time defending the Associated Press in its latest dispute with the FBI.

In 2007, a 15-year-old in Washington state was making bomb threats and directing cyber attacks at a Seattle high school, and the FBI was having a difficult time tracking him down.

Having profiled the suspect as a narcissist, an FBI agent communicated online with him, posing as an AP reporter to ask if he would be willing to draft an article about the threats.  The request included a link to a fake AP story that included tracking software, which led agents to the suspect.

The AP calls this an “unacceptable” action that “belittles the value of free press rights” and “corrodes … our independence from government control.” Huh?

As the FBI director points out, deception is a tool of law enforcement, and the only person interacting with the fake AP reporter or reading the fake AP story was a suspect threatening the bombing of a school.

Journalists have plenty of reasons to be unhappy with the Justice Department.  But they should save their outrage for genuine violations of the public trust.

Category: Dan Ward, Taking Aim Tags: , , 1 Comment

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