CNN’s Chris Cuomo claims accessing WikiLeaks’ troves of Hillary Clinton emails is “illegal” for private citizens, but not for the media.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 16, 2016
“Also interesting is remember, it’s illegal to possess, ah, the stolen documents — it’s different for the media. So everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us,” (emphasis his) Cuomo stated during a CNN segment asking, “What do hacked Clinton campaign emails reveal?”
Cuomo has since both backpedaled and doubled down on Twitter.
Be clear: not telling anyone not to read wiki. Was making point: hacking illegal, so TECHNICALLY, if you download stolen info that's wrong
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) October 17, 2016
hacking is a felony. POSSESSING wiki stolen info could be construed as a crime. Media gets an exception. viewing by you also ok.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) October 16, 2016
He also retweeted a series of tweets from an unverified account of a “board-certified psychiatrist who works in the field of law enforcement” defending his statements.
— Todd McGregor (@mcgregor_todd) October 17, 2016
The legal veracity of these statements has yet to be determined, but Cuomo’s words were anything but vague. While Todd McGregor claims that the reporter’s words were “taken out of context,” his words were pretty difficult to misconstrue.
The real issue with Cuomo’s assertion isn’t the veracity of his legal reasoning — it’s that he is using a nationally televised platform to actively discourage U.S. citizens from looking at emails damaging to the Clinton campaign for themselves. To an audience that contains millions of people less tech-savvy, this frames due diligence as a crime, and CNN as the arbiter of truth.
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