The White House Correspondents’ Dinner has turned into a red carpet event for Washington’s media and bureaucrat elites. This year president Trump is not attending, which is a good thing. Fostering a little comity between Republicans and Democrats can bring the nation together, but a healthy democracy works best when there’s a frosty tension separating journalists and those in power. This weekend’s self-important gala encourages the executive branch and the fourth estate to get along; it would be better if we made them square off in paintball.
Music: Moonlight Reprise by Kai Engel
John Hayward reports: “News of a verdict in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court initially came early Sunday, but court spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei did not specify the judgment,” reports Rezaian’s paper, the Washington Post. “In a state TV report late Sunday, Ejei said definitively that Rezaian was found guilty.”
“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years. It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.”
The Iranians have not specified what Rezaian is guilty of or what his sentence will be. The “trial” wrapped up two months ago. Rezaian has already been imprisoned in Iran for 14 months. He has now been held hostage longer than the Americans seized in Tehran under President Jimmy Carter, a milestone Rezaian passed over the weekend.
“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years,” the Post ominously notes. “It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.” His Iranian lawyer also appeared to be unaware of the conviction.
“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” said Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »
Administration’s tactics, which include using Espionage Act to pursue leakers, have had chilling effect on accountability – study
Karen McVeigh writes: Barack Obama has pursued the most aggressive “war on leaks” since the Nixon administration, according to a report published on Thursday that says the administration’s attempts to control the flow of information is hampering the ability of journalists to do their jobs.
The author of the study, the former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, says the administration’s actions have severely hindered the release of information that could be used to hold it to account.
Downie, an editor during the Post’s investigations of Watergate, acknowledged that Obama had inherited a culture of secrecy that had built up since 9/11. But despite promising to be more open, Obama had become “more aggressive”, stepping up the Espionage Act to pursue those accused of leaking classified information. Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Morrissey writes: Remember when the media rushed to talk about transparency in the Barack Obama “Hope and Change” era? Good times, good times. Leonard Downie, who once worked as the executive editor of the Washington Post and wrote a novel about Washington corruption and the Iraq War, finds a bigger and non-fictional problem in the successor to George W. Bush. Downie gives the Post a preview of his report from the Committee to Protect Journalists which outlines the Obama war on reporters and their sources:
“A memo went out from the chief of staff a year ago to White House employees and the intelligence agencies that told people to freeze and retain any e-mail, and presumably phone logs, of communications with me,” Sanger said. As a result, longtime sources no longer talk to him. “They tell me: ‘David, I love you, but don’t e-mail me. Let’s don’t chat until this blows over.’ ”
Sanger, who has worked for the Times in Washington for two decades, said, “This is most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”
Many leak investigations include lie-detector tests for government officials with access to the information at issue. “Reporters are interviewing sources through intermediaries now,” Barr told me, “so the sources can truthfully answer on polygraphs that they didn’t talk to reporters.”
The investigations have been “a kind of slap in the face” for reporters and their sources, said Smith of the Center for Public Integrity. “It means you have to use extraordinary measures for contacts with officials speaking without authorization.” Read the rest of this entry »