Journalists Outraged At DOJ's Secret AP Probe: 'Shocking,' 'Disturbing'

Journalists reacted with shock and outrage at the news that the Justice Department had secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.

The AP broke the news on Monday about what it called an "unprecedented intrusion" into its operation. It said that the DOJ had obtained detailed phone records from over 20 different lines, potentially monitoring hundreds of different journalists without notifying the organization. The wire service's president, Gary Pruitt, wrote a blistering letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the DOJ of violating the AP's constitutional rights.

Reporters and commentators outside the AP professed themselves to be equally angered. "The Nixon comparisons write themselves," BuzzFeed's Ben Smith tweeted. Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for the New York Times, called the story "disturbing." Washington Post editor Martin Baron called it "shocking." CNN's John King described it as "very chilling."

Speaking to the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, a lawyer for the AP called the DOJ's actions "outrageous," saying they were "a dagger to the heart of AP's newsgathering activity."

BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera was perhaps more pithy, writing simply, "what in the f--k."

There was also widespread speculation, not least from the AP itself, that the Justice Department was conducting such a broad operation because it was investigating national security leaks. The Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on leaks and whistleblowers. On Monday, the Freedom of the Press Foundation echoed the sentiments of many when it tweeted that "the Obama admin's crackdown [on] leakers has long been a direct attack on the press," and added, "This is an important wake-up call."

Click below to see a further sampling of some of the reaction to the AP story.