Attorney General Jeff Sessions shocked a room full of journalists on Friday when he announced that he plans to place limits on the freedom of the press in light of all the leaks coming out of the White House.
“Are you saying you will jail journalists, Mr. Attorney General?” a reporter asked as Sessions exited the room. “Do you plan to prosecute journalists?”
While Sessions didn’t answer this question specifically, according to MSNBC host and attorney Ari Melber, he “told a room of reporters he may make it easiest to jail them if they don’t reveal sources.”
President Trump has previously labeled the news media the “enemy of the people” and anytime someone publishes something he doesn’t like or agree with, even if it’s true, he labels it as ‘fake news.’
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sp0ke shortly after Sessions press conference but he, too, refused to specify if they planned on jailing journalists for publishing leaked information.
The only elaborating Sessions did was when he suggested that journalists could face repercussions for publishing information. He said that the freedom of the press “is not unlimited” and journalists “cannot place lives at risk with impunity.”
The ACLU immediately responded to Sessions threats, saying “Every American should be concerned about the Trump administration’s threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a similar response, saying “relaxing guidelines to make it easier for investigators to subpoena journalists and their records would have a chilling effect on press freedom.”
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told HuffPost it was “disconcerting that the frame [Sessions] used today in referring to reporters putting lives at risk just ends up feeding into the broader narrative of this administration ― of reporters being enemies of the people.”
The truth, he said, is that “news organizations routinely check and vet information with the government before publication because they, too, care about national security interests.”