When the Department of Justice secretly seized phone records for the Associated Press, it was not the first time Attorney General Eric Holder’s Cabinet department used unseemly tactics against journalists.
As this reporter uncovered before the election, emails between now-former Holder spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler and progressive advocacy organization Media Matters for America show the administration colluding with the far left-wing group to smear media figures, whistleblowers, and members of Congress like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The correspondence covered an extensive list of media personalities critical of the Obama administration:
Among others, Gertz sent Schmaler attack pieces he wrote about Townhall Magazine’s Katie Pavlich, who also authored a book on Operation Fast and Furious; Breitbart.com writers Joel Pollak and Ken Klukowski; Fox News Channel’s William LaJeunesse, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity; Sipsey Street Irregulars blogger Mike Vanderboegh; DirectorBlue blogger Doug Ross; National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy; and this reporter.
Issa called the targets of the Media Matters-DOJ attacks Obama’s “enemies list,” a reference to political targets of former President Richard Nixon.
“Not since Richard Nixon have we seen a president who puts together an enemies list and has a whole team pursuing it,” Issa said on Fox News in September. “That’s what’s happened in this administration. It’s sad. It’s not the America I want to see going forward. I sincerely hope that after the election, regardless, the American people will have made a statement that they won’t tolerate this.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told radio host Ginny Simone of NRA News at the time, “I promise you, we are going to have a nice, full public hearing on that.”
Gowdy said he’s “delighted to know they [the DOJ] took time away from suing my home state of South Carolina to do something other than plan their next lawsuit. But, I’m very disappointed that they took time away to try to coordinate with the media on how to embarrass some of us who have been critical of them.”
The Associated Press revealed Monday that Holder’s DOJ secretly obtained two months of phone records of AP reporters.
“The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a ‘massive and unprecedented intrusion’ into how news organizations gather the news,” author Mark Sherman began. “In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012.”
According to AP, DOJ rules require Holder himself to sign off on any records requests from the media. “Justice Department published rules require that subpoenas of records from news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general but it was not known if that happened in this case,” the AP wrote.
AP notes the government would not specify what it sought to find in the records. The news agency suggests the records desired include those relating to a May 7, 2012, article about a CIA operation in Yemen.
Holder is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee.