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Copyright (c) 2006 Fordham Law Review
Fordham Law Review

NOTE: WHERE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SPACES CONVERGE: DISCRIMINATORY MEDIA ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

October, 2006

75 Fordham L. Rev. 253

Author

Ilana Friedman*

Excerpt

Introduction
 
Government and the media engage in a constant battle over the accessibility of information. At present, as the War on Terror gives the federal government more power to deflect the media's scrutiny for purposes of national security, 2 the implications of this battle present timely and important questions. The climate of fear in newsrooms today is stronger than it has been in several decades. This fear arises from the pressure that politicians exert on journalists to conform to the story that the government wants to tell. 3 In particular, the current Administration has employed a tactic of selectively granting access to government information to media actors who support Administration policies and ask questions that highlight Administration successes while stonewalling actors who are more critical. 4

The Administration physically restricted access to information, for example, by routinely excluding a New York Times reporter assigned to cover Vice President Dick Cheney from the press plane during the 2004 presidential campaign. 5 Additionally, the Administration admitted to prescreening reporters' questions at a press conference during the Iraq War, permitting only scripted questions to be asked. 6 Access to government information is not only controlled by restricting the press; rather, it may also be problematic when government selectively grants access based on a reporter's content or viewpoint. In a highly publicized incident, a member of the White House press corps, Jeff Gannon, received liberal access to the White House while working on behalf of an organization owned by a prominent Republican whose ...
 
 
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