In 2017, the Trump administration requested not only phone records from Washington Post reporters, but also information about CNN journalist Barbara Starr. The Department of Justice received information about email and phone use from a Pentagon correspondent for the months of June and July of that year.
Starr was recently notified by Justice. It was not mentioned why her data was requested, but there is said to be no investigation against her. The data may show who spoke to the journalist.
President Trump is known to be frustrated with the leaks from his administration. During this time, Starr worked on stories about negotiations with North Korea and the wars in Syria and Afghanistan. Washington Post journalists have written articles about the close ties between Russia and the Trump administration.
CNN Chairman Zucker said requiring phone data from journalists goes against the US Constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees press freedom and freedom of expression. “CNN strongly condemns the classified investigations into any details of a reporter’s correspondence.”
‘Frustrating news gathering’
A spokesperson for Justice earlier said about the Washington Post data that the journalists themselves were not the target of the investigation. “It wasn’t about the recipients of the information, but about those who gained access to the national defense information and passed it on to the media. By doing so, they violated their legal duty to keep the information confidential.”
It’s shocking that the practices go beyond The Washington Post, says Bruce Brown, president of a media advocacy group. “The big story just got bigger,” he tells Politico. “The fact that another organization has also been targeted proves that investigations of journalistic sources have been more frequent under the Trump administration, in hopes of thwarting news gathering.”
President Biden described this practice as wrong when asked about it during a newspaper interview. “This will not happen under my leadership.”