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Times-Tribune Editorial: FBI’s Impersonation of Media Erodes Confidence in Press

By The Times-Tribune
Editorial Board

Democracy works only with an independent press that is not controlled by the government. The nation’s Founding Fathers knew that. That’s why, right there in the First Amendment, it says that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, of the press.”

It doesn’t include a specific prohibition against government agencies impersonating reporters. Perhaps the founders believed that their successors would have the good sense not to jeopardize the independence of the press.

Recently, however, the FBI has decided to impersonate the press, thus diminishing the press’ separation from the government.

It created a false newspaper website in Washington state to plant software on a suspect’s computer. And one of its agents impersonated an Associated Press reporter in an effort to trick a suspect into verifying facts of an alleged crime.

“This latest revelation of how the FBI misappropriated the trusted name of the Associated Press doubles our concern and outrage, expressed earlier to Attorney General Eric Holder, about how the agency’s unacceptable tactics undermine AP and the vital distinction between the government and the press,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor.

Indeed, Mr. Holder should prohibit the impersonation of reporters to help maintain the media’s independence.

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