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DOJ Blocks Blogger from Media List

Paul Kiel, deputy editor of the left-of-center political blog Talking Points Memo and reporter for its companion, realized one day that he had stopped receiving press-release e-mails from the U.S. Department of Justice. Having been on the DOJ's distribution list for more than a year, his immediate impulse was not to suspect ill motive, he writes this week. Still, TPM -- founded by blogger Joshua Marshall -- had won widespread recognition for its dogged legwork last year in exposing the Bush administration's partisan firings of several U.S. attorneys. And then there was that story Kiel had done enumerating false statements made by the DOJ's director of public affairs over the course of the U.S. attorney scandal. But DOJ wouldn't retaliate in so petty a manner, would it?

Curious to learn why he'd been dropped from the list, Kiel asked a research assistant to check with the DOJ's Office of Public Affairs. It took a week, but he finally got a response, in the form of a note from press assistant Jamie Hais. It said:

I appreciated your desire to be in tune with DOJ press releases, however, unfortunately I am not able to add you to our distribution list. As you may realize we have a lot of requests to be put on our media lists and we simply are not able to put everyone on the list. We do however have all our press releases on our website and update them the minute they are released so I would suggest looking there. You can also always call us with press inquiries. Thanks again for your interest.

No room on its digital list for one more e-mail address -- an address that had already been on the list. OK, that explains it. Kiel says he's asked the DOJ to elaborate on its criteria for inclusion. But journalist Dan Gillmor, writing at the Center for Citizen Media Blog, comments, "This has to be one of the more lame governmental PR decisions of the recent past." TPM's reporting on the U.S. attorney firings "is the obvious reason the Justice Department has shunned them," he says. Gillmor suggests a workaround: that a non-shunned journalist who receives the DOJ releases set up automatic forwarding to the bloggers at TPM. But that really isn't the point. What is the DOJ's policy regarding who can and cannot be on its mailing list? Who's making those decisions, and why? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 18, 2008 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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