It Isn't a Crime When the Government Does It (The Agitator)
Sunday November 18th, 2012
So remember when Chicago police were arresting people for recording them, and charging them with crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison? Remember the woman who was arrested and charged because she attempted to record Chicago PD internal affairs police browbeating her when she tried to report a sexual assault by a Chicago cop? Remember all that stuff we heard from Chicago PD and Cook County DA Anita Alvarez’s office about protecting privacy?
So this happened . . .
[A] court filing in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city raised questions about whether a city spokeswoman had recorded Tribune reporters without their consent as they conducted a phone interview with Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in October 2011. If you work for the government and you violate a the law in order to record journalists who cover the government, you get a gentle “reminder.” If you’re someone like Michael Allison, Tiawanda Moore, or Christopher Drew and you violate a bad law in order to expose government abuse, you get arrested, cuffed, jailed, and charged with felonies.
And in separate incidents this past September, city spokespeople twice recorded a Tribune reporter as he conducted phone interviews with a top city official involved in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial speed camera program. The spokespeople acknowledged that they independently recorded the interviews without asking the reporter for consent.
Gerould Kern, senior vice president and editor of the Tribune, declined to comment Friday about the recordings. Instead, he cited the letter sent by Tribune Co. attorney Karen Flax to Patton, demanding that city officials cease recording Tribune reporters without consent. The letter also asked that the city preserve copies of all recorded conversations and turn them over to the Tribune.
In its response Saturday, the city said it was unclear whether there would be any tapes to turn over. While City Hall acknowledged the two improper September recordings, it insisted they were mistakes.
“What we have told city employees is that our position is that you follow the law,” City Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said Friday. “And when this issue was brought to the city’s attention, we reminded employees to continue following the law.”
Seems about right.