The newly revealed Justice Department records show the hidden censorship tactics of the Obama administration to silence writer Jim Bovard’s criticism of then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
A senior Justice Department official attempted to intimidate USA Today into ceasing publication of Bovard’s commentary, according to documents uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request made by Bovard.
In 2015, former Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon emailed USA Today editors and tried to intimidate them about why they had allowed Bovard to criticize Holder.
“Mr. Bovard is not a columnist for the paper, and his take on Mr. Holder is well established by the screeds he publishes on other platforms as well such as The Washington Times, so why is it considered novel or appropriate for him to be given a platform to whack the AG every couple months on your paper’s website?” Mr. Fallon asked.
USA Today editor Brian Gallagher responded that his publication had no agenda and invited Holder to follow through on previous agreements to meet with the paper’s editors.
Fallon was undeterred. He subsequently wrote to Mr. Gallagher and David Mastio, another editor, saying he did not understand why Mr. Bovard had been offered a platform “repeatedly for his denigration of Holder.”
The newspaper continued to publish Bovard’s writings.
The criticism of Fallon against Bovard did not involve the leaking of a government secret. Fallon’s email to USA Today included a column in which Bovard referred to Bovard as a “government secret. Bovard called Holder “deeply disappointing” and wrote that the attorney general “championed a Nixonian-style legal philosophy that presumed that any action the president orders is legal.”
Mr. Mastio, the editor of USA Today, argued with Mr. Fallon and said it was the only instance of a government official at Mr. Fallon’s level seeking to silence the opinion of one of his writers.
The hostility of the Obama administration to the press is well documented. Obama officials have been conducting electronic surveillance of former Fox News correspondent James Rosen and former New York Times reporter James Risen, according to reports.
The government seized Rosen’s phone and email records, and his movements in and out of the State Department were tracked. Risen has faced government requests to reveal his sources – which he has refused to do – and wrote last month that the Justice Department gave the green light to an FBI plan to ambush a planned meeting between a source and him in 2014.
The Justice Department has been targeting Bovard for his views.
The Biden administration established a Disinformation Governance Council within the Department of Homeland Security. The administration publicly suspended the work of the board earlier this year and its incoming leader, Nina Jankowicz, resigned amid public outcry over the administration’s desire to be an arbiter of truth and regulator of speech.
Last year, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated to reporters that the administration was “regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives dangerous to public health.”
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