Chuck Todd of NBC News this morning did a good and succinct job of laying out the problems with the massive Justice Department culling of Associated Press phone records.
Todd notes the crux of the issue: Reporters rely on confidentiality to do their jobs. No confidentiality – then no scoops, no information the government doesn’t want you to have, no accountability.
Once people think – and the damage has already been done here – that their phone call with you could end up in a government database, they will not be talking to you. That’s one reason the press came up with so few scoops in, say, the Soviet Union.
Well, okay, perhaps sources will meet you in the shadows of some Washington area garage for a furtive chat – it’s been done, but it’s highly inconvenient.
This could well be the worst kind of government intimidation of the press and threat to the First Amendment we have seen in a very long time.