Another rough day for the White House
Today continued the rough-and-tumble week for the Obama administration, following…
- Friday’s sudden discovery that the IRS had disproportionately screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
- The ongoing controversy over the administration’s handling of last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi.
- And, finally, the sudden revelation yesterday that the Justice Department had secretly seized months of phone records from the Associated Press.
Attorney General Eric Holder today recused himself from the investigation into his own department’s probe of multiple AP reporters and editors, while announcing an extensive investigation into the IRS matter.
Holder also defended the seizure of AP records, claiming the AP’s leaked information posed a danger to the public:
"It put the American people at risk and that is not hyperbole. And trying to determine who is responsible for that requires aggressive action.”
White House Jay Carney refused to comment on the AP scandal, citing an ongoing investigation, but did say the White House, to his knowledge, had no idea about the IRS screening until just a few weeks ago.
Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Mark Lennihan / Associated Press
Justice Department secretly taps into AP reporters’ phone records
In a surprising declaration a short time ago, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had obtained two months of phone records tied to numerous reporters and editors in various cities, in what the news organization is calling a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
The reason for the government’s actions, which the AP was alerted to in a letter Friday, are as of now unknown.
From the Associated Press’ story on the emerging scandal:
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
AP’s President and CEO, Gary Pruitt, issued a strongly-worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder:
We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news. While we evaluate our options we urgently request that you immediately return to the AP the telephone toll records that the Department subpoenaed and destroy all copies.
Photo: Molly Riley / Associated Press
Today in terrifying fake news
The Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked earlier today, sending out a false report of explosions at the White House. The tweet was swiftly debunked, no report was sent on the AP news wire and Twitter has since suspended the account.
But that didn’t stop some from immediately believing the fraudulent tweet. Note the sudden plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the time the tweet went out:
In the wake of the now-notorious tweet, and the outrage last week over a number of grassroots amateur detectives on Reddit working to solve the Boston Marathon bombings, it’s important to remember that not everything online should be taken at face value.
Photos: Twitter, Google
AP pronounces them wife and wife
With a changing in cultural norms comes a change in the Associated Press’ style. After outrage arose following a leaked memo revealing that the longstanding news organization was advising writers to refer to married gay couples as “partners,” instead of husbands or wives.
The new entry in the style book under “husband, wife” reads:
Regardless of sexual orientation, ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. ‘Spouse’ or ‘partner’ may be used if requested.