Surveillance

Feds Seize CNN Reporter's Data, Then Gag CNN

If this doubly punitive anti-press maneuver sounds familiar, that's because it keeps happening, including to Reason.

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On Wednesday, CNN Executive Vice President and General Counsel David Vigilante made a revelation sure to startle those unaware of the state's vast power to not just seize information from journalists but bully their employers into silence about it under penalty of jail time.

"Since July 17, 2020," Vigilante wrote, "I have been bound by a gag order or a sealing order that prohibited me from discussing, or even acknowledging, that the government was seeking to compel the disclosure of the professional email communications of CNN reporter Barbara Starr."

The Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr had been requesting email header data and phone logs of Starr, a Pentagon reporter, dating from June 1 to July 31 of 2017, for reasons that are still unknown to any third parties aside from some federal judges operating a secret court. (Starr herself was not the target of the investigation, the feds confirmed to reporters.)

The Trump administration launched a crackdown in 2017 against national security-related leaks, an effort that led to the secret seizure of three Washington Post reporters' phone records, which was revealed only last month. In doing so, former President Donald Trump's DOJ prosecutors followed the rules and legal justifications established by their predecessors in the Obama administration, which prosecuted more leakers than every prior presidency combined, even charging Fox News White House chief James Rosen as "at the very least, either…an aider, abettor, and/or co-conspirator."

A CNN piece last month laid out the chilling and expansive framework for secret government seizures:

Under DOJ regulations, the department can secretly obtain journalists' records through a court order, without the journalists knowing. […]

"The level of secrecy is something we've been very focused on for years. From our perspective it impacts reporter source privilege and the protections for the reporter," said Katie Townsend, legal director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "These things are routinely filed under seal and kept under seal and maintained under seal indefinitely." […]

DOJ policy also allows prosecutors to obtain journalists' communications without their knowledge through the courts—if the attorney general signs off and the Justice Department determines the case falls under "extraordinary measures," such as harm to national security, and after all other reasonable attempts have been made to obtain the information elsewhere.

"On paper, DOJ established these guidelines and levels of approval that appear fairly stringent," CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig said. "But it is entirely and solely within DOJ's discretion to seek issuance of a subpoena."

The process in some ways is similar to how federal investigators can secretly obtain communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through the FISA Court.

As with the FISA Court, the secrecy of these proceedings is an excellent tell that the underlying legal justifications for bulldozing Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable government search and seizure are quite poor. Indeed, one of the only judges to lay eyes on the DOJ's reasoning for harassing CNN concluded that it was based on "speculative predictions, assumptions, and scenarios unanchored in any facts."

Commented CNN's Vigilante: "This was the first characterization of the evidence we had seen, and it was stunning: After months of secret proceedings and heavy-handed enforcement tactics, a neutral judge said that, in large part, the emperor had no clothes."

The CNN general counsel seems to think such doubly punitive measures—the seizure, and the stifle—are rare in the journalism and communications world. "I was aware that such secret orders were used by DOJ on matters of national security," he writes. "However, in the 20 years I have been at CNN, we have never been subject to one. That is likely because the law and existing DOJ regulations establish (at least on paper) a very high bar for such an order to be issued directly against a media organization."

Well, not exactly. As Nick Gillespie and I wrote six years ago, "From press accounts of similar actions at other news publications and social media sites, we know that it is increasingly common for the federal government to demand user information from publications and websites while also stifling their speech rights with gag orders and letters requesting 'voluntary' confidentiality."

We were then especially conscious of the practice because it had just happened to us. On June 2, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sent Reason a grand jury subpoena demanding personal information of six people who had left hyperbolic comments about the judge presiding over the controversial federal conviction and sentencing of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

The comments ranged from speculative fantasy violence ("judges like these that should be taken out back and shot") to darkly referential humor ("Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first"), to 100 percent normal Internet speech ("I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman"). None represented a true threat, yet that's how U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara took it.

From our account:

The original subpoena, received late on Tuesday, June 2, did not come with a gag order. However, it came with a letter from Bharara and Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor requesting that we refrain from informing any other parties about the subpoena so as to "preserve the confidentiality of the investigation," and that we notify his office in advance if we intended to do so, even though it also said that we were under "no obligation" to keep the subpoena confidential. […]

So we decided, against the government's request but well within our legal rights, to…notify and share the full subpoena with the six targeted commenters so that they would have a chance to assert their First Amendment rights to anonymity and defend themselves legally against the order.

At about 10:30 am ET on Thursday, June 4, our attorney Gayle Sproul (of Levine, Sullivan, Koch, & Schulz) called Velamoor to discuss the subpoena. The call did not go well. Sproul asked Velamoor to consider scaling back the scope of the subpoena by omitting the more benign commenters. Velamoor said simply, "No." Then Sproul informed him that we would be notifying our commenters about the subpoena to give them the chance to defend their rights to remain anonymous, and that we would not comply with the subpoena as it related to any commenters who moved to quash the subpoena before our compliance deadline. Sproul explained to him that there is case law firmly establishing that these commenters have the right to speak anonymously, and that we would withhold the information of anyone fighting the subpoena. Velamoor disputed that any such free speech rights exist. He asked that we delay notifying the commenters so he could get a court order prohibiting us from disclosing the subpoena to them. We refused. Sproul pointed out that we were perfectly within our rights to share the subpoena given the law and the wording of his own letter. Velamoor then suggested that Reason was "coming close" to interfering with the grand jury investigation. The call ended abruptly.

We notified our commenters immediately, and less than seven hours later came the gag order, preventing us from discussing even the existence of the original subpoena to any outside third party for the next six months. Because none of the six commenters decided to fight the case, and because successfully challenging such grand jury subpoenas is virtually unheard of, we grudgingly complied with the original government records request. But not before word of Bharara's heavy-handed response leaked out, generating a tremendous amount of media criticism, which surely helped us get the gag order lifted.

CNN had no such luck, regaining its free speech rights only after the DOJ-mandated 90 days following compliance with the (somewhat scaled-down) records request. "I've never encountered a situation like this," Vigilante told his colleagues after getting his tongue back. "I felt like there was a sword of Damocles over me for the year."

The CNN general counsel also only learned last month that "the government had also been sweeping other electronic accounts where Barbara communicated about work-related matters. CNN was afforded no opportunity to protect any communications that were maintained by these third-party hosts. And other than knowing none of the other accounts were held by our parent company, AT&T, we have no way of knowing how these responses were handled."

In fact, as we reported here six years ago, while the increasing but still comparatively rare open clashes between the DOJ and news organizations tend to make headlines, the real data collection is happening every day, quietly, in the form of requests and subpoenas to social media companies and other third-party vendors. More:

There has been a mounting conflict between the values of free speech and constitutional due process, with government making increasing demands–often under threat of punishment–for all sorts of information from innocent citizens. Coupled with the rise of a secretive and pervasive surveillance state, this tension means that Americans have no way of knowing just how unfree their speech really is.

While it is impossible to fully ascertain the frequency of information requests from local, state, and federal law enforcement, there is every reason to believe websites are subjected to thousands of demands each year. It is also not clear how other websites interpret the type of letter requesting "voluntary" confidentiality that Reason received. How often is that letter sent along with subpoenas? And how often does it achieve its intended effect of securing silence? In other words, does it have the same effect as a gag order?

In 2013, for instance, Mother Jones reported that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft have between them received "tens of thousands of requests for user data from the US government annually," covering hundreds of thousands of accounts. Using corporate transparency reports, the magazine estimated that the companies complied with the demands between 72 percent and 89 percent of the time, and that it's impossible to know how many of those requests were filled without the affected users ever knowing their information had been targeted.

Officials from CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times are reportedly scheduled to meet next week with Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss the DOJ's guidelines and practice when it comes to seizing the data of journalists who are not targets of any investigation. In a free society, and with a government that took seriously its duty to secure Americans' constitutional rights, that would lead to an abolition of such Fourth Amendment transgressions altogether. Alas, we are far away from any such world.

NEXT: The FBI Returned This Innocent Couple's Safe Deposit Box. It Refuses To Give Back Many Others—and Is Trying To Seize $85 Million in Cash.

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    2. Welch and the pontificating class sure love to whine about journalist’s rights a lot. I would like to see most of the morons from CNN lined up and executed by firing squad.

      1. That makes you just like them. Now, of course I would never suggest or condone this, but I’m surprised that someone hasn’t suggested taking the government agents involved in this type of behavior out back and feeding them into a wood chipper.

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  1. CNN might think twice before being the blind mouth peice of the progressives and Gov agenda. Haha I kid, they are all evil and retarded scum and deserve what they get.

    1. Disaffected, defeated, inconsequential, derivative right-wing clingers are among my favorite culture war casualties.

      Whine about all this damned progress as much as you like . . . but you will toe the line established by your betters.

      1. But enough about the Democrats and their sycophants in the media.

      2. Kirklands butthurt again because he is starting to realize that his side is losing ground.

  2. General Counsel David Vigilante

    CNN sends vigilante to deal with government! Insurrection!

  3. “Alas, we are far away from any such world.”

    We were never there. That’s the bigger mindfuck. Mormons learned that one way back when (which by the way totally fucks over the whole white supremacy bullshit peddlers – the feds will come for anyone who gets in their way)

    1. If only we had been successful in exterminating the mormons… The world would be a better place.

      Now they’ve infiltrated our government. Our country is fucked unless people wake up.

      The only good Mormon is a dead mormon.

      If you say “their beliefs are strange, but they’re so friendly” you’re part of the problem.

      1. Dude, I’ve seen the video. So I get it. It’s gotta be rough watching a bunch of Mormon guys run a train on your mom. But this website isn’t the appropriate place to address this issue.

        1. 1. Mom’s dead. Not gonna work on me.
          2. When she was alive she hated Mormons too. She didn’t want them harmed or anything, but she knew what monsters they’re.
          3. You’re boring R Mac

          1. They did it to her corpse? No wonder you’re so fucked up!

            1. Good one!

          2. No denying the video.

            #sad

            1. So you enjoy watching corpses get gangbanged?

              I don’t know what you’re watching but I can guarantee my mother isn’t in it.

              I’m glad a sick fuck like you finds me boring.

          3. Monsters: anyone who believes in God and follows an organized religion.

            1. No just Mormons. I respect all religions.

              Mormons are trying to force their stupid goddamn beliefs and lifestyle on everyone.

              Anyone dumb enough to believe what they believe shouldn’t be breeding let alone having a dozen kids.

              They gotta go!

      2. Why kill them when one cup of coffee will send them into a tailspin leading inevitably to debauchery and libertinism?

        Sit back and let the experts handle this, the gays. We have the best genocide there is: the kind where at the end of it is not a bullet, but a new discovery about the male orgasm.

        1. Trust Tony to take KARs genocidal creepiness and kick it up a notch.

          1. We’re like the Nazis, just subtract the fear, hate, genocide, and stupidity, and keep the fashion sense and appreciation for the male form.

            1. No, you pretty much have kept the fear, hate, genocide, and stupidity, and you sound too fat to look good in anything.

              Anyway, the entire leadership of the Nazi Stormtrooper movement was gay, so you’ve got tons of precedent.

              1. I never said there couldn’t be gay Nazis! I just explained the appeal. If only the Nazis hadn’t tried to murder literally all the gays, maybe they could have done better in the war.

                It’s just that you can’t really do fascism without appeals to the provincial cultural hangups of common folk, and that almost always includes heteronormativity. But that needn’t necessarily be the case if, say, Key West decided to become fascist.

                It’s a way of doing things, it’s not a set of beliefs.

                1. It’s a way of doing things, it’s not a set of beliefs.

                  Like spreading AIDS?

                  1. More precisely, spreading lies that disfavored minorities are a toxic threat to the wholesome common folk, but it’s true that fascism and AIDS have both killed a lot of people.

                    1. Except you are a toxic threat by normalizing mental illness.

                    2. Eat a dick bigot traitor

                    3. no u

                    4. Great comeback! You really showed me!

                      Did your wife/sister give you that one?

                    5. No, your mom did right after she told me what an embarrassment of a spawn you were.

                    6. Ya know the guy who diddled your kids was straight. Not gay.

                      Your bigotry is unfounded. You really should be pissed at your dad for diddling your kids.

                      He came all over your sons face. A gay guy didn’t.

                      Traitor

                    7. Just because your mom’s brother turned you into the hicklib faggot you are doesn’t mean you need to show you’re a pederast just like Palin’s Buttplug as well.

                    8. I’m not a pederast. Your dad is. He diddled you son. That and you raising your kids to be Nazis mean the world is better off if your family died.

                      Traitor

                  2. Cram it traitor.

                    It’s funny when you call me hicklib. You’re more of a hick than me.

                    Pussy

                    1. Remember, slice vertically, not horizontally.

                    2. Remember to pull out and cum on your sister’s tits.

                      The last thing Colorado needs is more inbred morons like you…

                    3. Your personal fantasies are none of our business, you hicklib faggot.

                      The last thing Portland needs is more chromosome-rich hicklib like you.

                    4. I feel bad for your kids. Its not their fault they have an American hating fascist father. However it would be better for everyone if your whole traitor family died. Your kids are just gonna grow up to be Nazis.

                      Fuck your traitor family.

                    5. Oh and I know you hate sports but sucks the Avs lost…

                      They should trade that little bitch MacKinnon.

                      Also the Nuggets are gonna get swept.

                    6. Cope and seethe, you hicklib faggot.

                    7. Say goodnight to your pussy Nazi kids traitor.

                      I hope your family gets raped and killed you bigoted waste of life.

                    8. Cope and seethe some more.

                    9. You’re a horrible person.

                      What godawful subarb of Denver do you live in so I know to avoid it?

                      Pussy traitor

                    10. You can call me whatever you want.

                      At least I’m a freedom loving patriotic American and not a fascist traitor like you.

                    11. Keep coping and seething.

                    12. Keep being a backwards Trump worshipping traitor

                      You put your obsession over a senile liar over your own country! Have you no shame?

                    13. Forever cope and seethe.

                    14. Forever a traitor

                    15. Forever a hicklib faggot.

            2. Subject; KARen ‘s genocidal creepiness.

              Tony: reminds everyone again that he’s gay.

              You’d think there would be a learning moment here, but probably not.

              1. The thing I would like you to learn is how thin the line between hypermasculine and homoerotic truly is.

              2. Hey buddy!

                So do you live in rural shithole Clackamas or rural shithole Clark county?

                You certainly fit in with the backwards hillbillies that live in those places.

      3. Mormons have been lured into assisting the IC to the point they are now creating their own paramilitary fronts – see OUR scam charity.

        First and foremost, religion must be taxed. Then they should be prosecuted for any indoctrination they do to people under 18. Within one generation religion will be relegated to Amish status. I’d rather be a government slave than a Mormon.

  4. Now do Obama administration you pieces of shit.

    1. They kinda did:

      “DOJ prosecutors followed the rules and legal justifications established by their predecessors in the Obama administration, which prosecuted more leakers than every prior presidency combined, even charging Fox News White House chief James Rosen as “at the very least, either…an aider, abettor, and/or co-conspirator.” “

    2. It might require both hands for you to do the math, but what happened to Reason was during his administration.

      1. From the guy still blaming current public schools on NCLB lol.

  5. Throw her in jail like Julian Assange.

  6. And, pray tell what has CNN learned from this experience?

    I eagerly await the op ed about a too powerful State.

    Maybe they’ll put ‘Fast Hands’ Toobin on it.

    1. “why did you sting me?” asked the turtle “now we will both die”
      “I am a scorpion that’s what I do” said the scorpion

      1. Yes, but CNN is both.

  7. It was a dark day in Hit&Run history when reason dimed out the commenters. Snitches get stitches, Welch.

    1. Justice

    2. Also, you chose a violent, racist name

      1. I thought you died, Hihn?

        1. Too crazy for heaven and too stupid for hell.

      2. His name’s not racist either. Or violent. You’re way off Hihn

        1. I’m just a poor snap-chat cheerleader.

          1. What did you do to piss of Hihn, anyway?

            1. Be libritarian?

              1. What about Bush! You are drool stupid to reflect.

      3. Actually, it’s hilarious. One of the better ones.

        Needs a catchy acronym, tho. Haha.

        1. White Mike makes acronyms, but they’re not very good.

          1. Everything is so terrible and unfair…
            To some

  8. Maybe if the feds want to eliminate leaks, they should fire all employees, including contractors.

  9. Officials from CNN, the Washington Post, and The New York Times are reportedly scheduled to meet next week with Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss the DOJ’s guidelines and practice when it comes to seizing the data of journalists who are not targets of any investigation.

    What? Why? Trump is no longer President so this kind of shit will never happen again. Worrying about it now is as senseless as worrying that the NSA, the CIA, the FBI or any of the other intelligence agencies are going to continue to spy on American citizens. Other than domestic terrorists, insurrectionists, Republicans, conservatives and white people, I mean.

    1. “Other than domestic terrorists, insurrectionists, Republicans, conservatives and white people, I mean.”

      What about libertarians?!?!? Don’t we count as unchurched heathens also? Unchurched in the Most High and Holy Ways of Government Almighty?

      (I am afraid that they might come for MEEEE and “escort” me off to the “nacht und nebel”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacht_und_Nebel … I am allergic to the “nacht und nebel”! Therefor, as a prophylactic measure, I will now lead us all in Devotion to Government Almighty, as a sign of my Truest of True Allegiances!)

      Scienfoology Song… GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

      Government loves me, This I know,
      For the Government tells me so,
      Little ones to GAWD belong,
      We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
      Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
      Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
      And gives me all that I might need!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      DEA, CIA, KGB,
      Our protectors, they will be,
      FBI, TSA, and FDA,
      With us, astride us, in every way!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      1. Poor baby, eat what you sowed

        1. Yeah you tell him!

          1. Lol. Yeah, what the fuck is that?

        2. Spaz, other asshole flags; my goodness!

  10. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. Sorry, not sorry.

  11. So CNN looters cheer when the Political Staat dishes it out to the other half of The Kleptocracy, then whines when they themselves can’t take it. In every case where force-initiating looter policies materialize, they who backed, pushed and voted for exactly that, now whine that the wrong half of the Nixon-law subsidized gang of entrenched liars is being coerced. Pardon my glee.

    1. Hey Grandpa, tell me again about the 1972 Libertarian Party platform

      1. At the convention, there was some good bud. But some of it was laced with extra stuff. Hank smoked to much of the latter.

        1. I’ve always just assumed Hank was frozen some time in the early 30s, thawed out a few years ago, and doesn’t realize it’s 7 or 8 decades later

      2. I want to hear about Smoot-Hawley and the Corn Laws again.

    2. Spot on Hank

  12. Get the Government AWAY from the Press!!

    1. Trump called our free press “the enemy of the people”.

      By that he meant freedom of press/speech would damage his reelection chances.

      1. Except the “press” is in reality, propaganda. Govt propaganda.
        We have been seeing it for decades. But since President Trump, it is out in open. The lies, spin, censoring.

        Propaganda is the enemy of the people.

        1. No I’m pretty sure the enemy of people is the vile Naziism you’re talking right now.

          1. Nothing is more vile than creepy fucks like you, who exploit the horrors of Nazism and the holocaust to bolster your authoritarian rhetoric.

            1. But I’m not the one who wants to eliminate the press as enemies of the people, apart from FOX News and a number of other outfits.

              1. “I’m not the one who wants to eliminate the press except for the ones I disagree with politically”

                You’re such an insane sociopath. You have no idea how stupid you sound.

                1. I know precisely how stupid I sound. I’m writing this shtick aren’t I?

                  1. For it to be a shtick, it needs to be intentional. We all know you really are this hopelessly stupid.

              2. Oh, so you just want to eliminate some of the press as enemies of the people? Got it.

                Pretty sure that’s no better than what you accuse others of.

                Fascist.

                1. The key difference is self-awareness.

                  I think fascist propaganda is not only a real problem, but one of the great scourges of humanity.

                  Note that I didn’t say fascists. Fascists are just people. Presumably they can learn to be decent, and you better hope so, because sitting threats to the survival of millions of people ought to be put in cages, as I’m sure you agree.

        2. Yet it’s the Government that is going after the Press….

      2. It wasn’t the “free press” that censored Trump. News the lefty-propaganda mill has kept hidden. It was at the request of Democratic Politicians.

        1. … And frankly; They should all be on Trial for Corruption for so blatantly breaking the People’s law over them.

          1. Here’s an exercise. Replace every instance of “lefty” with “Jew” in your writings, and see how it sounds.

            1. That’s a pretty crazy accusation for an actual antisemite like you who handwaves his Jew-hate by saying “I’m actually criticizing Israel”.

              Here’s a suggestion for you Tony, replace every instance of “Israeli” with “Jew” in your writings, and see how it sounds.

              1. “Here’s a suggestion for you Tony, replace every instance of ‘Israeli’ with ‘Jew’ in your writings, and see how it sounds.”

                That’s the funniest fucking thing I’ve heard all night, and I’ve actually been watching stand-up specials. Bravo.

                Actually I prefer not to get involved too much in that little controversy. I guess I’m supposed to sympathize with the less powerful of the two warring tribal deities, and I do chafe at a government acting in my name giving aid to the more powerful one for the singular reason that it likes that monkey idol better than the other guys’ monkey idol, but once you start taking sides in ape wars, you just get shit flung at you.

            2. Are you trying to stuff religion into the State again Tony?? ( Replace lefty with Jew)?
              I do believe the root of your idiocy lies in the term Gov-Gods and a Political Religious type of ‘faith’.

              Do all lefties suffer this insufferable trait? Is that why they think the Gov-Gods can legislate the weather?

              1. Bidens ‘Infrastructure’ Bill —
                A Mandate that everyone offer-up their valuables, labor and gold before the almighty Gov-God and his al-mightiness will toss a few nuggets to his faithful peasants of CA.

              2. You’re barely coherent dude.

      3. No no, tell us more about how the people who routinely lie, cover or kill stories, continually get facts wrong and sick the mob on innocent people are good and just.

      4. Oh, and he didn’t call the press the enemy, he called the media the enemy. There is a difference.*

        *Every man, woman, and child in this country is the press you retarded fuck.

  13. Well, since CNN doesn’t have reporters, just propagandists, who cares anyway?
    Now, it they come after Tony or Sqrlsy, that’s different.

    1. Tony thinks that he’ll be the one manning the guillotine, instead of one of its victims.

      The lessons of what eventually happened to the Jacobins and the Old Bolsheviks are lost to him, because he thinks history began in the sixties.

      1. History is invariably bloody, which is why you take the long view and appreciate the horror and contradictions that go alongside the promise and hope, given the fact that modern liberal society originated with guillotines in France.

        You’re obsessed with choosing sides in fights that aren’t really happening, and that’s because your brain is more prone to a fear response from cultural change. That’s the very definition of irrational, but it would be equally foolish to pretend that your sort can be mollified by rational argument.

        1. Oh, I get it. Somebody stole Tony’s nick.

  14. “followed the rules and legal justifications established by their predecessors in the Obama administration”
    Just because Obama did it doesn’t mean it was ok for Trump to do it, right Lumberjack!

    1. Of course it doesn’t.

      But in this era of divisiveness and polarization, isn’t it refreshing that there is a policy that Obama and Trump see exactly eye to eye about? If they had a debate with each other that was limited to this issue exclusively, there would be nothing but agreement with smiles and congratulations all around.

      1. A bipartisan end to the 1st Amendment. Isn’t it disgusting.

      2. Well, one had a fawning, star struck press. The other? ……..

        Haha.

        1. Agreed. Even after two impeachments and leading a failed insurrection against the United States, Trump has a vast support network of fawning media outlets so friendly they actually never contradict a single thing he says, no matter how Trumplike.

          Obama, of course, got shit for a tan suit and that was from his supposedly fawning press.

          1. “vast support network”–Lol, if only.

          2. “…a failed insurrection…”

            Stupid sumbitch still can’t spell “protest”.

          3. Haha. Wow. Ok, you’re parody. Duly noted.

            1. No, you’re a parody of a brainwashed rube. Say one negative thing about Donald Trump. Just repeat something you read at OANN if you like.

              1. Say one negative thing about Donald Trump. —
                He should have never signed the CARES Act.

                Now your turn…
                Say one bad thing about the left.

                1. Sometimes they are too polite.

                  1. … And your hypocritical projection shines through 100%..

                    A noteworthy observation is ’emotional’ polite though; the ‘mean tweets’ cliche stands to be true.

                    If the right carried the lefts gangster affiliation mentality that the lefties love projecting onto the right…
                    Donald Trump would be ‘too’ perfect.

                    But then again; what should be expected of the party of [WE] mob rules besides illogical gang-affiliation mentality? Now; mix in the color of one’s skin and their gender (the lefty favorite) and what do you get?? A racist, sexist party running around projecting their own mentality traits onto everyone else.

  15. If someone writes an article about unreasonable government actions around citizen data I’m all ears. But spare me articles that treat “journalists,” whatever that means, as a special class.

    1. That would be the first amendment.

      1. “[N]ews gathering is an activity protected by the First Amendment.” … [T]his right is not limited to professional journalists or established media companies: “The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press.” …

        https://reason.com/volokh/2021/06/09/police-officers-intentionally-blocking-citizen-videorecording-could-violate-first-amendment/

        1. That says it’s not limited to professional journalists, not that it’s OK to line up professional journalists and shoot them.

          I can help the first guy’s confusion by reframing it as treating “journalism” as a special class of profession. Though he seems to value freedom of the press less than freedom of privacy, which is fair enough, and I’m sure he’s spent a lot of time protesting anti-abortion and trans athlete genital check laws.

          1. “Press” in the 1st amendment doesn’t designate people, it designates the tools and acts of publication.

            1. I thought that’s what I just said. Why do you people keep sounding like you’re itching to murder some journalists?

              1. Literally the only person talking about shooting or murdering anyone in this comment sub-thread is you.

                Everyone else is discussing how professional journalists should not enjoy any special legal privileges, or, conversely, how all citizens should maintain the same level of protection as is afforded to journalists.

                1. What are we talking about here? Whether you can be prosecuted for withholding sources or whistleblowing?

                  I swear it was just a couple years ago when libertarians were saying that free speech was such an expansive right that it covered, somehow, the act of funding political campaigns without disclosure or limit.

                  Now all of a sudden which rights do you want to take away from journalists?

          2. It’s not okay to line up and shoot journalists because they are citizens and thus have the right to due process (non-citizens also have such rights in most cases, but I am less certain where the line is drawn).

            Every citizen has an equal right to report the news, whether or not they are journalists. If, as a society, we decide that it isn’t okay for the government to use subpoenas and gag orders to unmask sources, then that ought to be true whether or not the target is a professional journalist. Otherwise, you are putting the government in the position to decide who is or is not a journalist in order to accord the former special privacy and privilege. Given that the line between professional journalist and private citizen is often blurred in new media, that would be an intolerable situation.

            1. Spoiler alert, it’s not OK to line up and shoot anyone, regardless of whether they have the right paperwork.

              1. Some people deserve the bullet.

                1. But we all disagree about who that is, don’t we?

                2. And some deserve the woodchipper.

  16. “Indeed, one of the only judges to lay eyes on the DOJ’s reasoning for harassing CNN concluded that it was based on “speculative predictions, assumptions, and scenarios unanchored in any facts.”

    This is damning, but if you’re looking for sympathy from the general public on this, don’t hold your breath. I’m tempted to say that Zuckerberg is even less popular than journalists right now, but that’s probably pushing it.

    When you treat every issue unfairly for years at a time, like CNN has done, it takes a truly principled person to pinch their nose and stand on principle. Where was CNN when Obama’s FBI sought FISA warrants to wiretap the Trump campaign–using evidence the FBI obtained from the opposition research of the Hillary campaign and knew to be unreliable?

    Standing up for the rights of CNN, at this point, is like standing up for the rights of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest the funerals of fallen heroes with signs that read, “Thank God for dead soldiers”.

    Yeah, I’ll pinch my nose and stand on principle, but let’s be sure to point out that we’re standing up for the principles–not the scumbag organization itself. CNN is the progressive enemy of liberty, capitalism, and the American people, and just because we’re standing up for the rights of scumbags on principle, doesn’t mean they aren’t scumbags.

    1. Look in the mirror

    2. You have no principles you’re violent and want to punish people looking for jobs. I won’t bring up your violent racism

      1. “I won’t bring up your violent racism”

        You just did Hihn.

      2. Fuck off, other asshole

    3. You’re just repeating jibber-jabber you heard on some low-rent rightwing propaganda talk radio show.

      Keep talking yourself into fascism. I think you’ll find the non-aggression principle one of the very first things to go.

      1. “Keep talking yourself into fascism”

        This from the nut who actively supports corporatism, censorship, book-burnings, critical race theory, hates Jews Israelis and wants all the eugenics policies from Aktion T4 enshrined in the Constitution.

        “But I can’t be a Nazi because I’m gay”
        Just like Ernst Röhm and the entire Brownshirt leadership.

        1. I’m a socialist, not a corporatist, I thought? So many -isms flung around politics these days.

          I’m growing more fond of censorship, it’s true. We’ve learned something important. If you invent mass media, and hypermass media like the internet, you have to contend with the fact that fascists propagandists can buy microphones, same as journalists. And as we are dumbfuck apes, media designed to stimulate the amygdala and turn off higher reasoning resonates more freely than media designed to inform you of the nuances of the world.

          I love books, and I highly recommend you try one sometime, but just today I was thinking, the world would be an objectively better place if every last copy of Atlas Shrugged were burned. But they’re books, not pokemon, and you simply can’t get ’em all.

          I do draw a line at genocide. Reeducation leaves far less of a mess.

          As for gay Nazis, well, nobody worshiped twinks like the Nazis.

          1. “I do draw a line at genocide. Reeducation leaves far less of a mess.”

            Sick fuck discovers their own fascism. You draw that line for now.

            1. The interesting thing about reading books instead of burning them is that you figure out that murdering large numbers of people for arbitrary and imaginary characteristics doesn’t do much for you except to get you put on history’s shit list.

              1. “you figure out that murdering large numbers of people for arbitrary and imaginary characteristics doesn’t do much for you”

                If it “did” anything for you, though, I’m sure you would go for it. As I said, you draw that line for now.

              2. The interesting thing about reading books instead of burning them is that you figure out that murdering large numbers of people for arbitrary and imaginary characteristics doesn’t do much for you except to get you put on history’s shit list.

                Depends on who’s doing the complaining about the killing.

                1. If the fascists win, there won’t be anybody in the future.

                  You think never-ending hysteria about cultural differences is a wise thing to engage in in a world with increasingly intertwined cultures and nuclear weapons?

                  1. If the fascists win, there won’t be anybody in the future.

                    Sure there will. Even the Mongols and the Maoists didn’t kill everyone.

                    You think never-ending hysteria about cultural differences is a wise thing to engage in in a world with increasingly intertwined cultures and nuclear weapons?

                    If it comes down to you or me, violent conflict is inevitable.

              3. “The interesting thing about reading books…”

                This from a stupid sumbitch whose history “education” comes from Parade magazine.

                1. The interesting thing about “learning” about “history” is that the evidence is inevitably incomplete, and perhaps so incomplete as to be forever biased against reality in certain ways. Life wasn’t lived on paper documents, and it certainly wasn’t lived etched in stones. And it’s usually the winners of conflicts who write the histories of them, and we can teach history as if it were something real, all the while knowing that it was almost all written by men in a world that half belonged to women.

                  It’s not objectively true that war is a more important historical subject than domestic life. It’s just the same guys who get off on war also wrote the history books. Even if you say that entitles them to it, you can’t say “that makes it true.” There is no truth in history. There is only evidence and the things we can say about it.

                  1. Except war has objectively driven more changes and evolution of human civilization than any other factor in human history–which is why the winners are the ones who write it.

                    1. I do not agree. Much bigger game changers are things like market economies, social law and order, improvements in food production, disease and disease prevention, religion, technology, and exploration and trade.

                      War only changes things when there is some sort of population trade and changes in political structure such as Roman occupations or the Mongol invasion of China which resulted in changes in some of the above factors. It is not war itself but social interaction which is more generally due to peaceful migration.

                    2. Much bigger game changers are things like market economies, social law and order, improvements in food production, disease and disease prevention, religion, technology, and exploration and trade.

                      Which are largely catalyzed by conflicts.

                      War only changes things when there is some sort of population trade and changes in political structure such as Roman occupations or the Mongol invasion of China which resulted in changes in some of the above factors.

                      You’re only looking at it from a globalist perspective. War doesn’t have to be executed by an empire to have profound effects on society or civilizations. Just ask the Amalekites.

                    3. Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.”
                      ― Genghis Khan

                    4. And?

          2. No, you have always and will always be a fascist. Whether that takes shape in you supporting actual racist or communist or even Nazi’s matters not to you, as long as they have the right letter after their name.

    4. The problem Ken is no one cares about principles, except principled people. And the great majority of people are not principled. Partisan hacks are not principled. They don’t deserve the grace of your restraint; they deserve the grave. That’s the only sort of principle that everyone recognizes.

  17. I wouldn’t have Welch do stories about the media, if I was in charge. He’s extremely biased on the subject.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/mattwelch/status/1102654202545913857?s=12

  18. The core to this particular story is Trump’s all-out assault on journalists who investigated his ties to Russia, which should come as no surprise to anyone, but I’m glad the commenters are focusing on the real issue: how evil CNN is.

    I wonder which of you will notice you’re Nazis before you start shoving trans people into ovens, and which after.

    1. Considering trannies are only about 1% of the population or less, the oven won’t have to be that big.

      1. First they came for the trannies.

        The flaw in logic is thinking that your culture and physical traits are best served by eliminating the other ones. How did that work out for the Nazis?

        Fascism never works out in the end, and it’s just an embarrassing shitshow for everyone. It’s not a legitimate way of doing society, it’s just an ideological virus. It’s politicians exploiting the chimp brains on the masses, but not for power and profit, but because those politicians share those chimp brains just with a little extra ambition and amphetamines.

        1. The flaw in logic is thinking that your culture and physical traits are best served by eliminating the other ones. How did that work out for the Nazis?

          It worked out pretty well for the aggressors through most of human history. Citing one example where that aggressor over-extended themselves out of hubris doesn’t change how many civilizations have been genocided simply because another group decided to do so.

          Fascism never works out in the end, and it’s just an embarrassing shitshow for everyone.

          Fascism is an economic system. Spain went along just fine for decades specifically because Franco learned the lesson that Hitler and Mussolini didn’t.

          It’s not a legitimate way of doing society, it’s just an ideological virus.

          That would be Marxism and all of its socio-economic offshoots.

          If Hitler hadn’t invaded Poland, no one would have given a shit what he did.

  19. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2021/06/10/this_isnt_your_fathers_left-wing_revolution_145908.html

    “The woke grandchildren of the former outsiders are now more ruthless systematic insiders. The woke and wired new establishment knows how to use money and power to rebirth America as something the founders and most current Americans never envisioned.

    Name one mainline institution that the woke left does not now control — and warp. The media? The campus? Silicon Valley? Professional sports? The corporate boardroom? Foundations? The K-12 educational establishment? The military hierarchy? The government deep state? The FBI top echelon?

    The left absorbed them all. But this time around, members of the left really believe that “by any means necessary” is no mere slogan. Instead, it is a model of how to disrupt or destroy American customs, traditions and values.

    Woke revolutionaries are not panhandlers, street people or Grateful Dead groupies. They are not even a few nutty and murderous Symbionese Liberation Army terrorists fighting against “the Man.”

    They are “the Man.””

    1. Not bad for a bunch of beta cucks, but one must keep in mind Umberto’s 8th characteristic of the Ur-fascist: 8. The enemy is both too strong and too weak. Jews are inferior yet control everything. Intellectuals and entertainers are effete and flighty but control all thought. Blacks are dumb but have all the politicians in their pockets. Mexicans are lazy but terk er jerbs. And so on.

      I would suggest that if you want to control one of the pillars of culture, you should talk less and work harder.

      1. Swarms of termites, roaches, ants can do a lot of damage and be very impactful in general. But do you admire their “individuals”, Tony? Especially when the exterminator arrives, someone in control of one of the pillars of culture whose existence you can’t even acknowledge?

        1. I’m merely suggesting that controlling culture requires hard work, not incessant whining about how unfair it all is.

          1. Yeah, but when real effort is put forward, you start crying about fascism.

      2. You nailed them Tony.

        1. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

  20. Stay at home mom Kelly Richards from New York after resigning from her full time job managed to average from $6000-$8000 a month from freelancing at home…

    This is how she done it… http://jive4.com/

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  23. These are abuses, and the reason they are so common is that judges are not doing their jobs. Instead of rubber stamping requests for information along with the secrecy orders that go with them they need to act as skeptical defenders of the targets of these orders. Since the targets are never notified, they have no chance to oppose them. The justice system only works when advocates from both (or all) sides have a chance to plead their case before a neutral arbiter. Absent that, the judge must step in and be the champion for the target.

    1. A robot would be a perfect judge. If the laws suck it’s incumbent upon the legislation to fix the laws.

  24. I know that it sounds bad. But if they have power to establish such secrets, then it seems that journalists/news organizations would have the right to allude to duress as well as the right to allude to being gagged so that the proper channels are not kept sucking on rubber nipples for state-controlled news.

  25. So what happens if CNN ignores the gag order and reports the news? Grow a pair.

    1. Finally someone gets it.

      Journalists need to defy gag orders and be willing to fight for the right to report that they’ve received a subpoena (which holds no force of law until a judge agrees that it does, after a hearing) and a gag order (which is plainly unconstitutional and unenforceable).

      If they don’t fight, they’re not worth being called “the press.”

  26. Libertarians of yore would be furious about this secretive government intrusion and the use of gag orders to prevent those affected from openly protesting against the information theft. I don’t give a rats ass who ordered it or who the target is.

    What kind of shithole authoritarian state do we live in?

    There is a political party opposed to this stuff. You might have heard of them.

    1. I’ve been subscribed to Reason for 30 years now. The current climate for this magazine is very different to say the least. I think Katherine and JD are libertarians but what we have now are a bunch of substitute teachers.

    2. I full throatedly condemn Trump for doing this just like I full throatedly condemned Obama. But forgive me if I enjoy the schadenfreud of these cockroaches being fucked with by Obama and still covering him like he was the second coming of Kennedy and then getting fucked with by Trump in the same manner.

      1. When Obama did it, it was to punish journalists. Obama jailed journalists.

        When Trump did it, it was to punish those with security clearance who leaked to journalists. Trump never jailed journalists.

    3. We are you stupid cunt. We just think it’s hilarious that CNN cares now because this was under trump. But they let Obama skate Scott free when he actually jailed journalists.

      Biden on the other hand has realized he doesn’t need to silence the media if he never talks to them.

  27. “The Trump administration launched a crackdown in 2017 against national security-related leaks, an effort that led to the secret seizure of three Washington Post reporters’ phone records, which was revealed only last month. In doing so, former President Donald Trump’s DOJ prosecutors followed the rules and legal justifications established by their predecessors in the Obama administration, which prosecuted more leakers than every prior presidency combined…”

    Trading DC swamp rats for NYC sewer rats got us only even more septic rats!

    Trump was Obama’s third term.

    1. Lazy robot.

  28. Do you have right to meta data that’s posted on someone else’s platform or computer? I’m not talking about email content, just your browsing habits, who you called or how often you called, or any locations involved. Or anything that’s publicly viewable.

    If sites can remove woodchipper comments, can they also report that to the cops? They already sell info to advertisers. As far as I can tell, I cannot forbid Twitter from selling trends generated from my posts to advertisers.

    We can all have jolly good time bashing the government, but in real terms out violation of privacy and freedom of thought comes from powerful private agencies. The DOJ would fold like a cheap Chinese lawn chair if the woke crowd made any issue about race. “This CNN journalist was not white, you’re being racist” Presto, they back down. They’re sacrifice national security to evade the woke mob on any day.

    But the big corporations lack any moral conviction outside of their leftwing bubble. Apple will continue to allow the Chinese to snoop on their citizens on their devices. “But the private companies can’t put you in jail” is a naive position to take, to say the least.

    1. You were so close and then you veered into fucknutsville.

      Corporations don’t buy and sell you on the internet because they are on a mission to help black people feel better about themselves.

      They do it because a) government lets them and b) they like money.

      Woke corporations aren’t worried about being punished by this Congress. They’re worried about their customers thinking they’re out of touch.

      Someday when you have money, maybe you can be a customer too.

      1. “They do it because a) government lets them and b) they like money.”

        Well, DUH. What does that have to do with anything I said?

        “Woke corporations aren’t worried about being punished by this Congress.”

        Um, sure they are. Do you think they just all fired their lobbyists? They’ll now brighten the offices of politicians with their sparkling conversation skills? Uber had to pal around with the likes of Al Sharpton when leftists came after them.

        Corporations sell your info to advertisers to make money. They’ll argue metadata isn’t private info. So should they also give that to the government? Apple provides China with snooping tech ON their devices.

        It’s a simple question, but you’re not the kind of person I expect to stay on topic or make an honest effort to understand someone else’s position. What else is new.

  29. Officials from CNN, the Washington Post, and The New York Times are reportedly scheduled to meet next week with Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss the DOJ’s guidelines and practice when it comes to seizing the data of journalists who are not targets of any investigation.

    Yet knowing what Obama did, and that Biden was an Obama clone, CNN and Reason supported Biden in the latest election. As I have stated before, supporting these Dictators will not save you.

    1. But they did not have a real choice did they.

  30. Geeze, set up a warrant canary, already. Why don’t all these companies do that?

    Probably because they’ve been under continual gag orders for years now. You have to NOT be under a gag order at some point, to set one up.

  31. Speaking of the DOJ, will reason write about merrick garland threatening Arizona about its audit?

    Garland is such a Weasley piece of shit, just like Obama and his stupid dog Holder. Thank God the Republicans actually nutted up and blocked this loser from the SC.

  32. I think we are in for a second Church Report on government surveillance. This is cascading and we are now finding surveillance of not only reporters, but Congress people and even people within the Administration’s staff.

    1. Next thing you know, they’ll be surveilling candidates in a presidential election.

      1. Or their staff working with foreign powers.

  33. It’s times likes these that really make me appreciate living in a free country.

    1. Hehe. What country is that? And I don’t blame you if you don’t want to tell.

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