And the guy teaches law. It's so embarrassing.
In today's WSJ, Reynolds, part of the right-wing blogosphere which cheered press-bashing for eight years during the Bush years, is suddenly very, very concerned that the White House has critiqued Fox News and called it out as being not a legitimate news outlet. Suddenly Reynolds is terrified by the fact that White House officials have publicly expressed an opinion about Fox News.
Playing dumb, Reynolds pretends the White House is trying to “dictate” what's news. But that's standard practice by now. That's been the clichéd talking point for weeks. On that front, Reynold is merely saying whatever everyone else has already said. (Congratulations!)
To actually prove his point about how terribly dangerous it is for White House aides to have an opinion about the press, Reynolds points to a controversy unfolding in Chicago [emphasis added]:
For the past several months, students at The Innocence Project, a program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, have come under fire from Cook County, Ill. Prosecutors aren't happy with their habit of turning up evidence demonstrating that defendants have been wrongly convicted. They've allegedly exposed the wrongful conviction of Anthony McKinney, a Chicago man jailed for 31 years on a false confession.
Discomfited prosecutors have responded by subpoenaing everything related to the students' investigation about the McKinney case: notes, interview records and even classroom grades. According to the prosecutors, the students aren't journalists, but an “investigative agency.” This is a distinction that has legal bite because journalists' notes are protected under an Illinois journalist shield law.
Wow, that is troubling. Students at a journalism program are uncovering important information and local law enforcement are hitting them with subpoenas.
But how is that apparent over-reach connected to the Obama administration? What on earth does that have to do with White House officials expressing an opinion about Fox News? Behold as the law professor plays dumb on an epic scale:
But they [prosecutors] may be excused for thinking that attacks on media critics are, in today's political era, business as usual. Indeed, they need look no farther than the White House, whose occupant has sometimes styled himself the nation's chief media critic. It is, after all, the Obama administration that declared that its critics at Fox News Channel are not real journalists, and that Fox is not a “legitimate news organization.”
Got that? The administration has expressed an opinion about Fox News, and that's just like Chicago prosecutors issuing subpoenas and demanding journalism students turn over their notes and interview records. But how? Because the administration actually has a super-secret plan to criminalize journalism.
So dumb it hurts.