[Commentary] At the beginning of 2017, the US Press Freedom Tracker started cataloguing every violation of press freedom that took place on American soil, be it through violence, arrest, denial of access, or other threats. This is a selection of those incidents from 2017.
Presidential prosecution: During an Oval Office meeting in February 2017 President Trump discussed with James Comey, then the FBI director, the possibility of prosecuting journalists for reporting on classified information. “Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates,” The New York Times reported in May. Comey does not appear to have objected to President Trump’s desire to jail journalists. Here’s how he described the meeting in written testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee: “The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information—a concern I shared and still share.” No journalist has ever been convicted of a crime for publishing classified information. The Obama administration successfully prosecuted more than half a dozen people who shared classified information with journalists, but stopped short of prosecuting the journalists who published articles based on that information.
[Peter Sterne, Kirk Duval, Stephanie Sugars & Camille Fassett work with the US Press Freedom Tracker. Peter Sterne is the project's managing editor.]