Speaking to the National Press Club today, Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt said that the Justice Department’s seizure of phone records had an enormously chilling effect on the AP’s ability to research stories.
Most specifically, Pruitt said that the Justice Department policies had scared away a large number of the AP’s usual government sources are too scared to even speak to them anymore, and whistleblowers are being intimidated away from even attempting to speak up.
Pruitt warned that the Justice Department’s behavior had not only had a deleterious effect on the AP’s reporting but also on other media outlets. He said reporters from non-AP organizations had confiding in him that their own sources were also being scared off.
The Justice Department had secretly obtained records of all incoming and outgoing phone calls made by AP reporters at home and at work, and also every phone line at the AP offices in New York, Hartford and Washington DC.
Attorney General Eric Holder defended the policies, insisting that leaks to the AP “put the American people at risk” and required “very aggressive action.”
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