All three networks, so far, have skipped the latest example of the Obama administration's aggressive attacks on journalists, this time against a former Washington Times reporter who in 2005 exposed the scant number of flights being protected by Homeland Security. On August 6, 2013, agency officials showed up at Audrey Hudson's house at 4:30 in the morning. With a warrant for an unrelated, minor charge, they raided her home and took private notes detailing sources.
According to an October 25 article on the case, "The warrant, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, offered no specific permission to seize reporting notes or files." The reporters at ABC, CBS and ABC have ignored the plight of their fellow journalist. However, Hudson appeared on Fox News to discuss the case. Real Story host Gretchen Carlson explained, "A conservative reporter saying the feds in a pre-dawn raid took her files while searching her home for guns, including a toy potato gun." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
AUDREY HUDSON: My husband was a federally licensed firearm dealer. However, what this has to do with is he purchased a potato launcher. It looks exactly like this. [Holds up funnel.] It's a novelty item.
GRETCHEN CARLSON: Right.
HUDSON: He purchased it online five years ago. The search warrant they presented at our house at 4:30 in the morning said that they came to recover this potato launcher. However, once they were in the house, the first thing that the Homeland Security officer asks me was, "are you the same Audrey Hudson who wrote all of the federal air marshal stories for the Washington Times?"
Carlson zeroed in: "Are you telling me that this may have been some sort of intimidation because of stories that you had written that were critical of this administration?" Hudson declared, "It's clearly intimidation."
Summarizing the story for The Times, writer Guy Taylor related:
David W. Fischer, a private lawyer contacted by the couple, said the raid is a potential violation of Ms. Hudson's constitutional rights.
"Obviously, the warrant is about a gun, nothing about reporters' notes," he said. "It would be a blatant constitutional violation to take that stuff if the search warrant didn't specifically say so."
As to why she came forward, Hudson told Fox News that it was to "make sure this doesn't happen to another reporter." She added, "Because we can't just have the government coming into your house on a minor warrant and walk out with whatever files they please of our work product."
The Times recounted Hudson's investigative journalism:
An article written by Ms. Hudson for The Times in March 2005 revealed how air marshals were protecting less than 10 percent of domestic and international flights during the month of December 2004, and that the number of flights Homeland Security officials were providing to Congress was higher than the actual number of marshals it employed.
One would think that the journalists at the NBC Nightly News, World News, the CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, Today and CBS This Morning would be interested. Apparently not.
In early October, the group Committee to Protect Journalists, headed by former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie, declared that the Obama administration was the most abusive towards journalists since Richard Nixon. However, the network reports at the three networks have yet to be disturbed by this trend.
A transcript of the October 28 Real Story segment is below:
GRETCHEN CARLSON: This next story raising serious questions about government overreach. A conservative reporter saying the feds in a pre-dawn raid took her files while searching her home for guns, including a toy potato gun. And she thinks the government may have an ulterior motive for conducting the search. Joining us now in her first TV interview, Audrey Hudson, Washington correspondent for the Colorado Observer. Great to see you, Audrey.
AUDREY HUDSON (Colorado Observor): Thanks for having me, Gretchen.
CARLSON: All right. So, let's go back to 1986, because I know your husband had some sort of a gun charge back then. Is that what this all stems from?
HUDSON: No. That has nothing to do with this. My husband was a federally licensed firearm dealer. However, what this has to do with is he purchased a potato launcher. It looks exactly like this. [Holds up funnel.] It's a novelty item.
HUDSON: He purchased it online five years ago. The search warrant they presented at our house at 4:30 in the morning said that they came to recover this potato launcher. However, once they were in the house, the first thing that the Homeland Security officer asks me was, are you the same Audrey Hudson who wrote all of the federal air marshal stories for the Washington Times?
CARLSON: Wow. Because you had written some articles about air marshal criticizing what?
HUDSON: Correct. I broke numerous articles and I had a wealth of confidential informants. But the main story I broke that aggravated the agency was they lied to Congress about how many flights they were actually protecting from terrorists.
CARLSON: Do you think you were specifically targeted? In other words, do you think that they came up with this potato gun raid that they had to do at your house predawn hours, but what they really wanted was what they ended up walking away with, which was what?
HUDSON: What they ended up walking away with were my confidential notes. I didn't even know that they had taken these until a month later. They called me on the phone and said, oh by the way, you can come and pick up your files. I said, what files? When I asked them why they had the federal air marshal files, he said we needed to run it by the TSA to make sure it was legitimate for you to have these files. They're my files. They're my handwritten notes. They're my typewritten notes. They're my work product. And by the way, the Privacy Protection Act guarantees that government cannot look at a reporter's notes unless there are very specific circumstances. So, essentially, they came into my house, they stole my notes, they've exposed my sources.
CARLSON: So I want to read the statement that comes from the Coast Guard. Here's what they had to say: "The documents were reviewed with the source agency and determined to be obtained properly," as you just said, "through the Freedom of Information Act. "The CG," Coast Guard employee, was notified the documents were cleared and the CG employee picked them up after signing for the documents." Or are they talking about your husband in that case being the CG in play?
HUDSON: No. That's who took the documents, the Coast Guard is part of Homeland Security. And that's really frustrating. Because only one file contained a document that I obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which is what they said they wanted to check out. The letter that came with the document clearing it was still attached. So, here was no question –
CARLSON: But Audrey, people watching –
HUDSON: – the other documents -- sorry.
CARLSON: Sorry to interrupt. People watching right now are going to be saying, are you telling me that this may have been some sort of intimidation because of stories that you had written that were critical of this administration?
HUDSON: It's clearly intimidation.
CARLSON: So you believe that you were clearly and specifically targeted, and that the -- the whole thing about the gun, the potato gun, was a cover?
HUDSON: I do.
CARLSON: And so what are you doing now? What's your answer? And why did you come forward?
HUDSON: Well, the Washington Times, who I wrote the stories for, they are pursuing legal action. So they're going to take that track. And I came forward for two purposes: One, I needed to let my sources know they could have been compromised by the notes that were taken. And also I want to make sure that this doesn't happen to another reporter. Because we can't just have the government coming into your house on a minor warrant and walk out with whatever files they please of our work product.