Demise of journalistic integrity

Big Brother is tracking reporters’ phone conversations.

Whether they call it tracking or backtracking – the FBI denies the tracing of phone records of The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News. Despite a recent attack on the Fourth Estate, the story never was the lead.

A government official informed reporters Brian Ross and Richard Esposito that phone records involving the two men were obtained by the federal government. The two investigative reporters exposed the story on an ABC News blog, but the story did not make an ABC News broadcast.

Whether the FBI listened to the conversations or not, the mere fact that they are tracking whom reporters speak with is questionable and worth investigating. The tracking of this type of information allows government officials to use the press as a government apparatus.

The occurrence of government surveillance on the press is widespread. Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA counterterrorism chief, verified that numerous press establishments were being tracked, perhaps even more than the three organizations specified.

Furthermore, the role of the press is crucial to democracy. When the FBI is allowed to extensively use phone records and deny reporters the freedom they need to operate as an independent monitor of power – which also serves as a watchdog of the government – the very fiber of our society is placed in a risky state. Journalists operate on freedom from corporate entities, government bodies, religious and political groups.

It is unfortunate that many journalists are compliant with the unconstitutional policies of the current administration regarding freedom of the press. If ABC News, The New York Times and The Washington Post will not sue over this matter, then citizens as stakeholders and consumers of news should express protest and defend this right which ultimately was established to weaken the ability and opportunity for totalitarian powers to emerge.

If this does not happen, the war on terror will only defeat democracy in America. In an attempt to export freedom, we have lost our own to the Patriot Act and National Security Letters.