WASHINGTON – The Radio Television Digital News Association issued this statement following the revelation of the seizure by the U.S. Justice Department of telephone records of the Associated Press:
“This unprecedented invasion of privacy involving confidential information is a blatant violation of basic rights afforded by the First Amendment,” said Vincent Duffy, Chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association. “This action is unwarranted and absolutely strikes at the heart of the press freedoms we cherish in the United States. These critical freedoms are protected by both the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and have clearly been thrust aside by the federal government through this action,” Duffy said.
RTDNA is working closely with other media groups to seek answers as to why the Justice Department took such a serious and, in our judgment, blatantly unconstitutional action toward an unknown end. Our efforts are directed toward reversing this assault on these basic and important freedoms.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with 52 other journalism organizations including RTDNA, issued a strongly-worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder condemning the actions of the Justice Department. Attorney General Holder has recused himself from the investigation but Deputy Attorney General James Cole responded to the Associated Press, saying the Department acted properly.
Meanwhile, the White House has renewed its call for a federal shield law to protect reporters. The New York Times reports that the White House asked Senator Charles Schumer of New York to reintroduce the Free Flow of Information Act.
RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. RTDNA represents local and network journalists in broadcasting, cable and digital media in more than 30 countries.