In case you weren’t already aware, later this year the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will be taking Julian Assange and Wikileaks to court for publishing emails and other sensitive information stolen from their servers in the weeks/months leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election. Ironically, The Washington Post was first to break news of this lawsuit dating back to April 20th, 2018.
As for why this is such a monumental case, it’s because it has the potential to change the course of American Journalism for the foreseeable future. For example, as was explained in an article by Avi Asher-Shapiro of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) yesterday, May 29th 2018, the case will attempt to re-establish whether or not a publisher can be held liable under US Law for publishing any leaked documents given to them via 3rd parties, as well as resolve the question if asking for or advertising to accept leaked documents it tantamount to “conspiring” to obtain illegal information.
As it stands today and as previous US courts have ruled, journalists are not to be punished for publishing leaked documents acquired as the result of legitimate news gathering and publishers are not discouraged against or thrown in jail for asking Government officials or others to leak them information in the first place. However, it is important to understand that if the DNC is successful in their upcoming case, all of this could change…
— Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) May 30, 2018
Despite the obvious political implications these leaks had, including potentially influencing whom the leader of the free world ultimately became, a growing number of legal experts from both sides of the political isle have come forward in condemnation of the DNC’s upcoming lawsuit, warning of the future implications a theoretically victory could have on press freedom right here in the United States. One former lawyer for The New York Times was quoted as saying he was “unhappy that there’s even an allegation that you could be held liable for publishing leaked information that you didn’t have anything to do with obtaining.” And the former board-chair for the CPJ said that the DNC is paying “zero attention to the First Amendment ramifications of their suit.” Other American press outlets, such as The Intercept, whom first rose to fame after publishing the Snowden Files, have also publicly expressed their support for Julian Assange/Wikileaks in the upcoming case with the DNC – and for obvious reasons.
Quite literally, if the DNC is victorious here and the court precedent is set, it would become illegal for any American new organization or individual journalist to publish leaked or stolen documents in the future. To give you some perspective on this, look at the activities of two of the countries largest publishers; The New York Times and Washington Post. Considering that it seems like The Washington Post publishes a new “leak” from inside the Trump White House on a near daily basis, if the DNC were to be victorious, The Washington Post would go from being one of the countries largest and most trusted publishers to the countries single largest criminal press organization – literally overnight. Moreover, if courts hold Assange – a journalist – financially liable for the information he publishes, any/all of the reporters whom have ever published a leak here in the United States throughout the past could also be held equally liable. Such a ruling would therefore have the potential to bankrupt some of the countries largest publishers.
Has The Press Brought This On Themselves?
I pose this question because throughout the past organizations like The Intercept have published tutorials informing potential sources how to Anonymously leak information to them online, and the organization is actively paying to run advertisements explicitly asking members of the US Government to leak them material in the future. Think about it though, if it is a crime for a member of the US Government to leak them any such material, couldn’t it very well be argued that organizations like The Intercept, Washington Post or New York Times are all literally “conspiring” to obtain illegal information – whilst also “conspiring” to persuade people to commit illegal/criminal acts?
Despite my continued support for the type of work/journalism Wikileaks does, I certainly happen to think the answer is yes….
I really hate to say it, but I agree w/ the #DNC in their suit against #Wikileaks. I've told The Intercept before, advertising/asking for leaked documents IS conspiring to obtain illegal information. Asking for illegal information isn't the same as it innocently showing up to you
— Brian Dunn (@BankruptMedi4) May 29, 2018
Once again however, at least as it currently stands today, despite how mischievous this practice is or these press tactics are, it is still technically considered “free speech” to publicly ask for leaked documents and publishing leaked documents is protected under the 1st Amendment. But once again, this is what the DNC wants to change.
The Political Irony of The Situation
The irony of the situation is that the main stream liberal media would have you believe that press freedom and the 1st Amendment is under attack almost exclusively by Donald Trump and his cronies. There is little to no acknowledgement/recognition of the fact that it is the leadership of the Democrat Party itself, backed by the full weight of their entire funding through the DNC, whom are actively trying to crack down on press freedoms, re-define free speech and change publishing laws as they presently exist for news organizations.
Lesson here is don’t be so quick to judge and do not believe everything you hear. There is a lot more going on than meets the eye, especially when it comes to “the news” and extreme political partisanship here in this country.