Washington Times Editor John Solomon finds himself in the midst of a widening scandal this week involving the potential government harassment of one of TWT‘s former reporters, Audrey Hudson. Hudson and TWT both sued the Department of Homeland Security last Thursday over what they claim was an unconstitutional seizure of confidential documents during a raid on Hudson’s house by Maryland and Federal authorities. The raid was ostensibly aimed at confiscating illegal firearms owned by Hudson’s husband, Paul Flanagan. But somehow, a Department of Homeland Security agent, Miguel Bosch, also ended up seizing some of Hudson’s personal documents, including notes on stories she had written that contained sensitive information, like the names and numbers of sources.
Now Solomon and Hudson want to know why Bosch took the documents in the first place, what he did with them, and who he showed them to. They see the raid and the confiscated documents as yet another example -along with the AP phone tapping scandal and the persecution of Fox’s James Rosen -of the federal government cracking down on reporters to try to get at their sources. FishbowlDC talked with John Solomon over the weekend about the case and got him to answer some questions for the Fishbowl Five. FishbowlDC also reached out to Audrey Hudson for an interview, but were told via a representative that her lawyers recommended against talking to the press at the moment. For more information about the raid and the lawsuit, check out TWT‘s story here.
John Solomon, thanks for talking with us. So why did Maryland State Police and DHS go into Audrey Hudson’s house in the first place?
Thanks for your interest in the story! As far as we can tell –from Audrey and the law enforcement records –they had some questions about gun ownership in the house, and wanted to check what weapons were in the house, and a search warrant specified what evidence they were looking for. In the process of executing that, they seemed to diverge from the guidance or authority of the search warrant, went into Audrey’s office, and grabbed a set of reporting files that specifically dealt with a series of stories that we had at The Washington Times a few years ago that exposed problems within DHS-specifically its Federal Air Marshall Service. At the time, Audrey didn’t even know they had been taken. She didn’t learn till a month later when they began returning her materials that they had held them for a month and, we later learned, went through them and read them. And so what started as a routine law enforcement matter has somehow turned into a First Amendment concern for us.
So you think the raid was a pretense to get access to those documents?
As a reporter, you try never to make presumptions beyond the facts. What we know is that when the Homeland Security agent got to the home, one of the first things he did was say “Are you the same Audrey Hudson who wrote those stories about the Federal Air Marshals?” So whether he figured it out when he got there, whether he knew that in advance, we don’t know. But when she confirmed that she was, that should have immediately kicked in the First Amendment concerns over reporter privileges. If anything, they should have been more sensitive about what they grabbed from the house that wasn’t covered by the warrant. We have no argument with the Maryland State Police or the DHS doing legitimate law enforcement work, but once they knew they were in a reporter’s home, the idea of going and grabbing those files, to us, is offensive. We want to know: Do they have copies? Have they gleaned any information from them? And have they used them in any way to harm sources, or infringe on the First Amendment further then they already have? That’s the purpose of the law suit.
Claire Danes could not be reached for comment.
Ha! Seriously though folks, The Washington Times, along with former reporter Audrey Hudson, really is suing DHS. Here are the best ‘graphs from the story:
The newspaper alleged that federal agents accompanying Maryland State Police on the raid took materials from Ms. Hudson’s office that were not covered by the search warrant that authorized the collection solely of evidence about guns and a potato launcher allegedly possessed by her husband, Paul Flanagan.
The seized materials included documents the newspaper had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act as well as notes and memos that identified confidential sources from a series of investigative stories that exposed problems inside the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshal Service.
Wait, a potato launcher? Read the whole thing here.
As bad as American journos are, everyone knows their British cousins are one-bazillion times worse (see Princess Di, cause of death of). But now those pilferin’, pick-a-pocketin’ Brit paparazzi have really gone too far!
94.7 Fresh FM “City Shop Girl” Kelly Collis reports that her original investigative reporting regarding a certain unicorn sweater, worn by a certain Sasha Obama to a Maryland basketball game has been lifted WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION by the Daily Mail from the Fresh FM website. Collis first reported on the fab sweater from UK retailer ASOS on November 18, and even sent ASOS a tweet asking if it was going to be restocked, to which they replied:
@cityshopgirl Love Love Love the unicorn sweater. We’re not sure at the mo if it’ll be restocked, but watch this space…x
Now, you may be feeling pretty silly for going into debt to pay for J school right now, but you have to admit, that is some real investigative reporting. She had a question, she got an answer. But narry a day had passed before the villains across the pond at the Daily Mail had seized on the breaking news of how effing cool this sweater is and slapped it up on their website, without giving so much as a (h/t) to poor Kelly Collis. From the Mail article:
A Twitter post read: ‘Love Love Love the Unicorn sweater. We’re not sure at the [moment] if it’ll be restocked, but watch this space…’
If the sweater were to be reissued, it would certainly be met by much fanfare.
No mention of Kelly’s Twitter handle, no reference to her story at all. COME ON! How likely is it that the Daily Mail just happened to quote a tweet directed at the intrepid reporter who broke the very story they are reporting on, without knowing who she was? Poor form, Daily Mail, poor form
For the whole, tragic story, click here.
Leonhardt, who was appointed bureau chief shortly after Jill Abramson became executive editor, served in that position for just two years. A Pulitzer Prize-winning economic columnist, Leonhardt was seen as a gifted writer with little editing experience, and thus an unnatural fit to lead the Times’ bureau.
Leonhardt is now expected to oversee a column that will focus on data and polling, effectively replacing Nate Silver, the famed statistician who decamped to ESPN earlier this year. One source described Leonhardt as the paper’s “next Nate Silver,” another as “the new Nate.”
A memo from Executive Editor Jill Abramson also details “an early morning news tip sheet that sets up the Washington day for our readers, much as the popular New York Today report does for our readers in the metropolitan area.” Carl Hulse will be the Managing Editor of the tip sheet and also Chief Washington Correspondent. Former Chief Washington Correspondent David Sanger will now cover cyber warfare and national security. Both Leonhardt’s column and Hulse’s tip sheet have yet to be named. All of these changes will be effective December 15th.
Full memo after the jump.