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Journalists say rights are ignored

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 6:36 p.m.

WASHINGTON — First, there was the news that the Justice Department had secretly seized telephone records of reporters at The Associated Press.

Reports later surfaced that the department had investigated a Fox News journalist as a potential criminal for doing his job.

Those actions by President Obama's administration are part of an unprecedented crackdown on classified national security leaks.

And that has led journalists, First Amendment scholars and groups that advocate for government transparency to question how much the White House values a free press.

“The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public's interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct,” according to a recent letter to Attorney General Eric Holder from 52 media organizations, including McClatchy.

Obama said he is trying to strike a balance between the media's First Amendment protections against government censorship and national security interests.

But his administration has aggressively prosecuted whistle-blowers under the 1917 Espionage Act.

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