Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan slammed the Biden administration Sunday for what he called an “unprecedented assault on American news organizations” that aims to stop efforts to report government wrongdoings and should “alarm all Americans.”
Ryan pointed out that President Biden criticized the Trump administration for seizing the records of reporters but hasn’t put a stop to the practice since taking office.
“Biden rightly decried this attack on the First Amendment, calling it ‘simply, simply wrong’ and assuring Americans that it would not happen in his administration,” Ryan wrote. “Unfortunately, new revelations suggest that the Biden Justice Department not only allowed these disturbing intrusions to continue — it intensified the government‘s attack on First Amendment rights before finally backing down in the face of reporting about its conduct.”
Ryan said the paper discovered Trump’s outgoing attorney general William Barr sought email and phone records of three Post reporters but the current administration has ignored a request for an explanation and a meeting with the Attorney General.
“This delay is troubling. When asked about how the president’s assurances can be squared with his Justice Department’s behavior, White House press secretary Jen Psaki could offer no explanation. She subsequently released a statement disavowing White House knowledge of the actions that appear to have continued for several months during Biden’s presidency,” Ryan wrote. “The egregious acts by the outgoing Trump Justice Department, and the apparent doubling down on them during the Biden administration, should alarm all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.”
Ryan wrote the First Amendment “is not a special privilege of the press but, rather, a fundamental right protecting all Americans” because it empowers citizens to hold elected officials accountable. However, the attempt to silence whistleblowers could keep Americans in the dark about important information.
The DOJ claimed it “will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from the media doing their jobs,” but the Post publisher doesn’t necessarily buy it.
“It does not guarantee that the Biden administration — or future administrations — will not resume these intrusive tactics. There must be clear and enduring safeguards to ensure that this brazen infringement of the First Amendment rights of all Americans is never repeated,” Ryan wrote.
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