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Topic of the day: The AP scandal

Published: Wednesday, May 15 2013 3:36 p.m. MDT

AP reporters and editors work in their assigned space in the House Press Gallery in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The Justice Department secretly obtained telephone records from April and May of 2012 of reporters and editors for the AP in what the news cooperative's top executive called a AP reporters and editors work in their assigned space in the House Press Gallery in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The Justice Department secretly obtained telephone records from April and May of 2012 of reporters and editors for the AP in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. (Cliff Owen, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Yesterday the Associated Press announced that the Department of Justice had secretly obtained phone calls and records from their journalists without seeking permission. It is believed that the DOJ seized the records to investigate sources of a news story — that the U.S. foiled an attempt to put a bomb on a plane on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last year.

Here is a look at what op-eds and editorials from around the web are saying about this breach:

“For more than 30 years, the news media and the government have used a well-honed system to balance the government’s need to pursue criminals or national security breaches with the media’s constitutional right to inform the public,” reads today's New York Times editorial. “This action against the AP, as the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press outlined in a letter to Mr. Holder, ‘calls into question the very integrity’ of the administration’s policy toward the press.”

At the American Prospect, Scott Lemieux asks, and then answers, whether or not the DOJ search was legal, and if so, if it was justified. "The answer to the first question, at least based on what we know now, is ‘probably.’” Based on current laws that even the press isn’t exempt from answering subpoenas in regards to a criminal investigation. Under current laws, the DOJ may have a legal case.

Attorney General Eric Holder is questioned about the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. In what the news cooperative's top executive called a Attorney General Eric Holder is questioned about the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. In what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the Justice Department monitored outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. (J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

But today's editorial in the L.A. Times notes that "when the government obstructs the ability of a news organization to do its job, the most important victims are not journalists but readers," expalining that even if the state is allowed to request such information from the press, it is presumed to have to inform the press about such actions. “Yet no such restraint or respect for limits was evident in the government's wholesale sweeping up of phone records of the Associated Press.”

At The Washington Times, Peter Bella is outraged against what he perceives as a lack of similar outrage from major news media organizations. "The news media should be outraged. Instead, they are silent. There are no screaming headlines, no scathing editorials. The news media is doing what it does best, covering for the administration and reporting on the heroic deeds of celebrities.”

CNN’s Ruben Navarrette, however, did take the time to express his disapproval of the administrations dealings with the press. “This White House has been horrible at transparency. In 2010, in more than a third of the requests for public records, the Obama administration didn't provide any information. In fact, the administration has released fewer records under the Freedom of Information Act than were released during the George W. Bush administration.”

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and is the DeseretNews.com opinion intern. Reach me at fstevenson@deseretdigital or @freemandesnews

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