The FBI issued a subpoena demanding U.S. newspaper giant Gannett provide agents with information to track down readers of a USA Today story about a suspect in a child pornography case who fatally shot two FBI agents in February.
The subpoena, served on the company in April, came to light this week after the media company filed documents in federal court asking a judge to quash the subpoena. The Justice Department’s actions were immediately condemned by press freedom advocates.
That’s why recent revelations about the Trump and Biden administrations’ efforts to seize newspaper records are so deeply troubling. (Similarly aggressive tactics were used by the Obama administration to plug leaks.)
Shortly before its term ended, the Trump administration secretly obtained phone records of journalists with CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Times reported that the Biden administration continued to press for email logs for four of its reporters.