January 10, 2017

During Sen. Sessions' confirmation hearing today, Sen. Klobuchar asked if he was committed to protecting the media and not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs because of Trump's prickly relationship with them. Sessions ducked the question, saying, "I'm not sure -- I have not studied that -- those regulations."

He's trying to become the next AG and he hasn't read through Eric Holder's new guidelines which has been hailed by the AP, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and The Newspaper Association of America?

Sen. Klobuchar asked, "You've raised concerns in the past about protecting journalists from revealing their sources. You did not support the Free Flow of Information Act. In 2015, the Attorney General revised Justice Department rules for when federal prosecutors can subpoena journalists or their records, and he also committed to releasing an annual report on any subpoenas issued or charges made against journalists and committed not to put reporters in jail for doing their job. If confirmed, will you commit to following the standards already in place at the Justice Department, and will you make that commitment not to put reporters in jail for doing their jobs?"

Sen. Sessions replied, "I would note that when I was a United States Attorney, we knew, everybody knew that you could not subpoena a witness or push them to be interviewed if they're a member of the media without approval at high levels of the Department of Justice, that was in the 1980s."

He continued, "I do believe the Department of Justice does have sensitivity to this issue. There have been a few examples of where the press and the Department of Justice haven't agreed on these issues, but for the most part there is a broadly recognized and proper deference to the news media."

"But you could have a situation in which our media is really not the unbiased media we see today, and they could be a mechanism through which unlawful intelligence is obtained. There are other dangers that could happen with regard to the federal government that normally doesn't happen to the media covering murder cases in the states."

President Obama has not been a champion of protecting journalists' rights, but he hasn't openly lobbied to change the libel laws like Donald Trump has threatened to do.

Sen. Sessions, while praising the profession, kept the possibility open that he would indeed prosecute journalists. And when Senators and the media, like ourselves discuss freedom of the press, it's on a much bigger scale then states covering murder trials. We are talking about whistle blowers exposing federal government outrage.

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