By LINDSAY THOMPSON
It was recently discovered that, back in 2007, the FBI created a fake news story impersonating the Seattle Times. The bureau’s reasoning behind fabricating the story was that they used a link to the article to catch the suspect responsible for multiple bomb threats to a local high school.
The Seattle Times is now claiming that it is “outraged” by the FBI’s actions. The question on the table now is: Is this matter of dealing with someone’s First Amendment rights?
The FBI did not stop the Seattle Times from printing whatever they choose to, which is typically the issue I always thought the First Amendment was there to protect. However, the key word in that sentence is choose. The Seattle Times did not chose to publish or have their name associated with that story. Instead, the FBI put words into the mouth of the paper.
Should it now be included and made clear that the press has the right to post, or not to post?
It’s questionable whether or not the FBI’s actions infringed on anyone’s First Amendment rights. What is clear, however, is that this information of the FBI’s involvement could impact reader’s opinions of the Seattle Times, and has the potential to discredit the reputation of the news source.
Taking it a step further, if the FBI could so easily do this with one news source, why couldn’t they with other sources?
I don’t believe this incident will lead journalists to begin questioning all sources of news. Still, I think it will raise questions about how the general public knows what is legitimate or not when it comes to news sources and this might make some journalists’ jobs harder.