When journalists no longer seem to care about objectivity or ethics in their reporting, the whole purpose behind a free press — to hold elected officials accountable and provide objective facts to the masses– goes right down the toilet.
A good example of this comes from John Harwood, a New York Times and CNBC reporter who is calling on White House staffes to leak classified information.
The Washington Free Beacon is reporting, After a White House source leaked transcripts of President Donald Trump’s phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia to the Washington Post, Harwood called on the leaker to do the same for Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dear Leaker (you know who you are),please just send me transcript of Putin call. won't bug you for any more. that's only one I need.
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) August 3, 2017
The legality of requests such as Harwood’s has long been a matter of debate. The Supreme Court has upheld the right of media outlets to publish unsolicited, illegally obtained information in cases such as Bartnicki v. Vopper.
But it’s generally illegal to solicit someone to commit a crime. As NPR put it, “Ample legal precedent suggests a protection for journalists as long as they do not themselves break the law or encourage or direct others to do so.”
In 2013, the Obama Justice Department named Fox News reporter James Rosen an unindicted “criminal co-conspirator” on the theory that he solicited the classified information he published. No journalist has ever been prosecuted for solicitation.
Harwood clearly is anti-Trump and is allowing his bias to shine through in much of his work, particularly when asking someone to do something that is illegal, simply because he desperately wants to nail the president to the wall.
Reporters are not supposed to be so deeply emotionally invested in a story that they cannot report the facts with as little of their personal opinion interjected as possible.
In days of old, a reporter like this would be told to take a few steps back from the story or hand it over to someone else for the sake of journalistic integrity and to allow people the freedom to have the facts and draw their own conclusions.
Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case.
Leaking classified information does more than hurt the president, it could, depending on the nature of what’s shared, put people’s lives in danger. Calling for someone to take such a step is the height of irresponsibility.