The New York Times revealed phone records and emails belonging to one of their reporters were seized by the Justice Department as part of their ongoing investigation into a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide.
James Wolfe, who was the Intelligence Committee’s director of security, has been arrested and charged with giving false statements to the FBI about his contacts with reporters and with providing them “sensitive information.”
Through the indictments, it shows Times reporter Ali Watkins had a romantic relationship with Wolfe for three years. During the relationship, the Justice Department claims Watkins was able to get scoops from Wolfe, despite telling them their relationship was professional.
However, Watkins maintains Wolfe was not a source of classified information during the time of their relationship.
Watkins’ Twitter account shows she had a few thoughts about having a romantic relationship with sources:
— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) April 2, 2013
— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) June 20, 2013
Watkins is referring to T.V. show “House of Cards” character Zoe Barnes, who is a reporter and has a personal relationship with Congressman Frank Underwood in order to get stories.
Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman, released the following statement:
Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection. This decision by the Justice Department will endanger reporters’ ability to promise confidentiality to their sources and, ultimately, undermine the ability of a free press to shine a much-needed light on government actions. That should be a grave concern to anyone who cares about an informed citizenry.
Leaders of various other outlets spoke out about the government’s seizure of Watkins’ records.