The Leak Investigation: If We Want To Protect Journalists, We First Need To Define Them

Below is my column in USA Today on the controversy involving the acquisition of metadata evidence on members of Congress and the media in the leak investigation launched during the Trump Administration. We recently discussed the questionable reporting by the New York Times concerning the lead prosecutor, but far more serious questions remain if we are going to reach any resolution on protecting journalists, including the question of what is a journalist.

Here is the column:

The disclosure of the Justice Department’s targeting of members of Congress and journalists with secret subpoenas has caused a firestorm in Washington. The targeting of recipients of this information in Congress and in the media constitutes direct attacks on Article I and the First Amendment of the Constitution. This will be one of the topics of a meeting convened by Attorney General Merrick Garland with media officials this week. It will not be the first time that such a meeting has been held in part as there is no resolution on the meaning of the key term for any protection. As another administration seeks to combat the targeting of journalists, the question remains: what is a journalist?

There are still many questions that need to be answered about the demand for companies like Apple to provide “metadata” related to journalists and members of Congress. There are many reasons to investigate the grand jury subpoenas used in the investigation and how to better protect not only journalists and politicians, but the general public. Grand jury subpoenas can be obtained without probable cause that the subject has committed a crime, and companies have been gagged from telling clients their information has been passed to the Justice Department. This leaves little protection against abuse beyond self-regulation.

Reverse engineering leaks

However, if we are to make progress, it will require both clarity and precision in our public debate. For example, the problem is not that an investigation into the leaks revealed emails or other information related to journalists or members of Congress. Few people dispute that the federal government has a legitimate interest, if not an obligation, to investigate the leak of classified or sensitive information. These leaks are criminal acts under federal law.

The real concern is whether the investigation targeted the recipients of these leaks, rather than the leakers themselves. Prosecutors and investigators are often tempted to reverse engineer a leak, starting with receiving the information and reworking to identify the senders. The government often knows the recipients just by looking at the signature on the items. It is much easier for the investigation and much more damaging for the Constitution.

This is not the first such assault on the media in recent years. During the Obama administration, Eric Holder’s Justice Department ordered a full investigation targeting then Fox News reporter James Rosen. Rosen has been investigated for simply speaking with a source in a story involving classified information. Even the phone numbers of Rosen’s parents were not spared in an operation that was said to have been approved by Holder. The Justice Department has evaded its own policies by branding Rosen a “co-conspirator” in the crime of information leakage.

Garland will now seek to assure the news media, once again, that the Justice Department will not target its communications or contacts. However, he can’t promise not to capture this information when targeting potential leaks – unless he wants to promise to end the leak investigations altogether.

While Congress is (rightly) asking for answers on the targeting of its members and journalists, it is also calling for a new investigation into the leaks after the billionaires’ tax records were released. The leak of these tax records is a federal crime, and the leak would likely appear to have originated from a hack of IRS records or an actual IRS employee or contractor. If the Justice Department finds a suspect, tracing that person’s calls or data may reveal contacts in the media, public interest groups, and other areas.

The Pro Publica article was a classic use of a leak. If this was an IRS employee, it was someone who believed they were acting in the public interest as a whistleblower. He was also someone who was committing a federal crime.

Regardless of the source of the tax information, the one thing the Justice Department shouldn’t do is reverse engineer by targeting Pro Publica staff. When the media relied on the Edward Snowden leaks, it was done to denounce the unconstitutional surveillance of citizens during the Obama administration. This has brought about radical changes. However, no one has sought to prosecute the New York Times reporters as editors, and few have questioned the legitimate effort to stop Snowden as responsible for the leak.

What is a journalist?

In his testimony to Congress, Garland said he intended to create new protections for the media to allow “journalists to continue their work by exposing government wrongdoing and mistakes.” It’s part of how you trust government, having that transparency. “

But what is a journalist? Does it include bloggers or citizen journalists?

It is generally accepted that this is a case of investigative journalism. After all, Pro Publica has won six Pulitzer Prizes and stands as a nonprofit investigative group committed to exposing “abuse of power and betrayals of public trust by government, business and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained exposure of wrongdoing.”

It sounds a bit familiar. WikiLeaks was founded as a non-profit organization “to bring important news and information to the public … to publish original sources alongside our reporting so that readers and historians can see evidence for the truth.” In 2013, WikiLeaks was declared by the International Federation of Journalists as a “new generation of media organizations” that “provide important opportunities for media organizations” through the publication of such non-public information.

If Garland is to implement protections for the media in the use of leaked material, he will face a prosecution against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by the DOJ. The Justice Department is still fighting to extradite Assange. He uses the same tactics used in the Rosen case by treating Assange not as a journalist but as a criminal co-conspirator. The DOJ insists that Assange played an active role in his correspondence and advice with the hacker. Still, Assange wouldn’t be the first journalist to work with a whistleblower who prospectively acquires or continues to acquire non-public information.

I have already written about the Assange case as potentially the most important press freedom case in 300 years. (For full disclosure, I also advised Julian Assange’s legal team in England on our criminal justice system and protections for the free press under the Constitution.)

Both Pro Publica and WikiLeaks could claim that these disclosures are in the public interest. Pro Publica wanted to denounce an unfair tax system. WikiLeaks wanted to expose how public figures lied to the public on topics ranging from foreign wars to campaign issues.

The rights of free speech and the free press require clear lines to flourish. For the free press, a clear line is to ban reverse engineering in leak investigations and targeting of publishers or recipients of information in the media or Congress. Another is to require a higher presentation (and higher clearance) for any search of journalists’ files. This, however, will inevitably lead us to questions that the government and, frankly, some media have avoided for years. What is a journalist, and what to do with Julian Assange?

This is why there is a lot to do in light of the current scandal and possibly a lot to undo.

Jonathan Turley is Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of the USA TODAY Contributors Council. Follow him on Twitter: @JonathanTurley

You can read various opinions from our Board of Contributors and other editors on the Opinion home page, on Twitter. @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, send a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

70 thoughts on “The Leak Investigation: If We Want To Protect Journalists, We First Need To Define Them”

  1. referring to what reporters do now as “journalism” is roughly analagous to describing what abortion doctors do as “health care for women”
    or describing what timothy mcveigh did in oklahoma city as “urban renewal reimagined”

  2. Let;s see, An individual commits a crime by stealing something (bearer bonds). Criminal gives said bonds to another person. Second person is caught with bonds and goes to prison along with his buddy whom he rolled on for a lesser sentence.

    Criminal steals information from IRS. Criminal gives information to journalist. Journalist gets caught with information (because investigators were smart enough to reverse engineer). Journalist doesn’t go to prison because … journalist.

    Yeah, that doesn’t sound like an equal protection violation.

  3. Jonathan: Today is the 49th anniversary of the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon. On June 17, 1972 the “plumbers”, former FBI and CIA agents, broke into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee seeking damaging information on George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for president. Nixon was so paranoid he was willing to engage in illegal wiretapping and other clandestine activities in pursuing his agenda against his political enemies. Sound familiar? It should. In 2017 Trump was similarly paranoid about Adam Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee Investigation of Russia’s links to the 2016 Trump campaign. So Trump ordered his then AG Jeff Sessions to seize Schiff’s communications and that of another member of the Intelligence Committee along with records of aides and even family members. Sessions also seized metadata of journalists to try to find out who the “leakers” were. After about a year without any evidence that Schiff or any journalist leaked top secret information the DOJ. put its investigation on the back burner.

    When Bill Barr took over the DOJ in 2019 he revived the Schiff-related case–pursuing it zealously on behalf of Trump. A gag order was placed on Apple to prevent lawmakers and journalists from finding out about the investigation. All of this was a violation of the right of Congress to investigate wrongdoing by the president but also the 1st Amendment rights of journalists.

    It is strange you mention a previous incident during the Obama administration when AG Eric Holder investigated Fox’s James Rosen. Butt you don’t even mention Bill Barr’s name in connection with the current controversy. Barr’s fingerprints are all over the attempts to undermine the constitutional responsibilities of Congress and the “free speech” rights of journalists. You also mention AG Garland’s attempt to mollify the media by assuring the DOJ will not target journalists. Too bad Barr didn’t do the same thing when he was AG. But Barr viewed his role as to assist Trump in his vendetta against Congress and the media. Now you are engaged in an effort to sanitize history by omitting any mention of your good friend Bill Barr who played a prominent role in undermining our constitution. By trying to protect your good friend Bill Barr from any culpability in this sordid affair you have done a disservice to history and the facts.

  4. What is a journalist?
    A person who digs for facts, all facts, no matter how inconvenient they may prove to be. They tell the truth. They are not an instrument of someone else will or desire. They do not report a story until their information is verified as true by real sources. They do not tip their hat to a politician or the powerful but fearlessly (yet respectfully) ask the hard questions and follow up these questions.

    Watching a good majority of the press ask the current President of the United States and his administration softball questions is both painful and comical, especially after observing how they approached the previous President. He and those in power wanted their jobs and should not be given any preferential treatment.

    Watching the press parrot talking points given to them by those in power who wish to dictate the National narrative is disturbing. What if a journalist steps out of line? Be sure the Tech giants with their “fact checkers” will come to the scene to exert control and head off the curious reader from sourcing their own information or making up their own mind.

    One can still witness journalism being practiced but unfortunately it has become less common, especially in the corporate media. To the consumer of information (and a significant quantity of misinformation)—-Caveat emptor!

  5. Turley’s argument is partially flawed.

    In the investigation to find the leak, The only place to start is with the reporter and work backwards.
    The issue is that I know the reporter who broke the story, and I know of all of those within congress along with their staff who could be the source of the leak.

    There are some analytical data techniques that could be used.
    First a simple correlation. Who did the reporter talk with that is in my pool of suspects?
    Then look at a kmeans distribution to find any correlation between the reporter and his contacts and those in the pool of suspects.

    Both would reduce the pool and then they could focus on the suspects to potentially find the leak.

    With respect to the metadata… currently there is no expectation of privacy. Where this gets tricky… is if they used certain metadata of the cell phones in their investigation. For example geo location of the phones to see if or when they were in proximity to one another.

    Sorry, but the Dems are screaming bloody murder and are trying to compare this to Obama’s spying on Trump. This is totally different.

  6. The Professor’s analytical framework is flawed. Simply put, this is a case for Occam’s Razor.

    The organizing principal is that the Democrats and their media accomplices will take whatever position they think will help them gain and consolidate power.

    In this case, the outcome hinges on the answer to two questions.

    First, is the information being disclosed helpful or harmful to the Democrats and their allies?
    Second, is the person receiving the information aligned with Democratic interests?

    Once the outcome is determined, the variable is the line of argument needed to reach that outcome.

    Examples:
    1. James Comey discloses notes of private conversations with President Trump, with the understanding that they will be given to the NYT —–> Commendable whistleblower acting in the public interest to ensure the administration of justice; receives lucrative book deal and teaches class on ethical leadership.
    2. Edward Snowden discloses information on NSA spying on American citizens to Wikileaks —> dangerous leakers are a grave threat to national security security; spend the rest of your life in Moscow or the Ecuadorian embassy, as the case may be.

  7. But what is a journalist? Does it include bloggers or citizen journalists?

    Yes – the US Bill of Rights was/is written in plain English – there are no qualifiers required for these unalienable Rights to reign supreme as they are inherent to our humanity not the transient whims of man.

    When these unalienable Rights were enumerated onto parchment 240 some-odd years ago the term or of the press – found within the first amendment – referred to a mechanical device which was (and still is) used to mass produce written word onto paper – such as but not limited to magazines, newspapers and pamphlets.

    The ingenuity of humans over the preceding centuries since the press was first conceptualized and then developed (thank you Johannes Gutenberg, etal) led to a technological revolution where individual persons without the aid of a mechanical press or the need for parchment or ink could mass produce written word (ie ideas) for wide dissemination electronically (ie bits/bytes) with the push of a finger thus circumventing the “gate keepers” of human knowledge for better or worse.

    The terms journalist, blogger, citizen journalist, investigative reporter or just plain old citizen (etal) are synonymous with one another constitutionally speaking.

  8. We have those on this forum who tell us that Professor Turley can not be trusted in his opinions because he appears on Fox News. What is left out are the facts that he has written for The N.Y. Times, TheWashington Post, U.S. Today and The Wall Street Journal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Turley. When you have a conception that you won’t let go of even in the face of countervailing evidence you may properly be defined as being controlled be an obsession. We all know of whom I write.

  9. Are there objective standards for what is considered good journalism and are they quantifiable? As destructive as bad journalism is to nearly everything around us, perhaps it’s time to consider a scoring model for journalists, much in the same way as FICO. Each member categorized as a journalist will have a score based on their performance relative to the objective standards and their employer will have a composite score of all the journalists in their employ.

    1. The USC is more of a doc that is supposed to force the FED Govt to keep the Nose out of an unbound areas in the nation then anything else.

      If it isn’t defined as the Fed’s explicit authority it isn’t any of the Feds Biz is the best rule of thumb.

    2. Olly, a scoring system is already in place for journalist and others. This system is already employed by Facebook and YouTube to determine who they will allow to speak on their platforms. A recent example is their taking down the idea that COVID 19 came from a lab in Wuhan. In their graciousness they have decided to allow the public to see the possibility of a lab leak. Trump said it could have come from the lab so social media shut down any communication that would prove him right in his assessment. This racist must be muzzled!. How many people became infected and died due to travel from China to destinations around the globe because the social media said the lab leak was just a conspiracy theory. Some will be saddened by their complicity but others will only exclaim as did Lady Macbeth concerning the blood on here hands that wouldn’t go away,“Out damn spot, out I say” However, the spot will never disappear.

      1. Thinkthrough, at Trump’s insistence a very thorough investigation was conducted. Still no proof of the lab leak!

        1. Vanity Fair cites Newsmax for raising US funding of Wuhan lab in 2020

          Fred Fleitz
          One of the best recent articles about the origins of the novel coronavirus and its likely origins from a Wuhan Institute of Virology biolab appeared in a well-known liberal publication, Vanity Fair, by investigative journalist Katherine Eban.

          Eban does a good job at describing efforts in 2020 to shut down any discussion of extensive evidence that the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab where dangerous gain-of function research was being conducted to make these types of viruses more contagious.

          Unfortunately, Eban could not bring herself to admit that the massive censorship of the virus origins by the press and big tech was part of the American Left’s campaign to defeat President Trump’s reelection by ensuring that blame for the virus in the U.S. fell on Trump and not China. Eban instead makes the ridiculous claim that honest debate about the virus was not possible because of Trump’s racism and xenophobia.

          Eban refused to state obvious: that Trump was right about the virus originating in the Wuhan lab and the Chinese government’s responsibility for it becoming a dangerous worldwide pandemic.

          Eban also was forced to admit that a Newsmax reporter asked President Trump a crucial question about U.S. funding to the Wuhan lab at an April 2020 White House press conference when she wrote:

          “As the pandemic raged, the collaboration between EcoHealth Alliance and the WIV wound up in the crosshairs of the Trump administration. At a White House COVID-19 press briefing on April 17, 2020, a reporter from the conspiratorial right-wing media outlet Newsmax asked Trump a factually inaccurate question about a $3.7 million NIH grant to a level-four lab in China. ‘Why would the U.S. give a grant like that to China?’ the reporter asked.

          Trump responded, ‘We will end that grant very quickly,’ adding, ‘Who was president then, I wonder.’”

          A week later, an NIH official notified Daszak in writing that his grant had been terminated. The order had come from the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci later testified before a congressional committee. The decision fueled a firestorm: 81 Nobel Laureates in science denounced the decision in an open letter to Trump health officials, and 60 Minutes ran a segment focused on the Trump administration’s shortsighted politicization of science.”

          Putting aside Eban’s childish swipe at Newsmax, Eban misrepresented this question which was asked by Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson. Her actual question about U.S. funding to the Wuhan lab was:

          “The NIH under the Obama administration in 2015 gave that lab [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] $3.7 million in a grant. Why would the U.S. give a grant like that to China?”

          We now know from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recently released emails that the National Institute of Health sent $3.4 million to the Wuhan lab from 2014 to 2019. This proves Robinson’s question was on target and not “factually inaccurate.”

          It is a shame that due to Katherine Eban’s partisan bias and Trump hatred, she was incapable of admitting this. Robinson deserves a great deal of credit for being ahead of everyone in 2020 on this issue.

          But more important, despite her dislike of Newsmax, Eban was forced to admit that Robinson’s question probably led President Trump to cancel U.S. funding of the Wuhan biolab.

          Congratulations to Emerald Robinson and Newsmax Media for their honest reporting about the coronavirus pandemic and for countering determined efforts by the mainstream media to shut down discussion of the Chinese’s government’s responsibility for unleashing this deadly virus on the world.

          1. Anonymous, if Trump was president and wanted the lab leak to become accepted fact, he could’ve kept pushing it like he has with election claims.

            1. Trump has not stopped calling the virus, the Chinese Virus and the Wuhan Virus. It is also known as the CCP Virus. Why do you think Trump keeps blaming China? I am shocked that you don’t realize what he is talking about. Of Course Twitter removes statements on Covid that talked about the Wuhan Lab.

        2. “. . . a very thorough investigation was conducted.”

          Of a lab in a *communist* country?!

          You’d have a better chance of success in a poker game with a den of thieves playing with a stacked deck.

      2. A recent example is their taking down the idea that COVID 19 came from a lab in Wuhan. In their graciousness they have decided to allow the public to see the possibility of a lab leak.

        Well sure. That’s a great example of the disastrous effects propagandists like FB, Twitter, MSM have on the intellectual dullards consuming their tripe without so much as a wait, what!?

  10. Journalists and newspaper do the jobs – at no expense to taxpayers – that judges and government watchdogs are oath-sworn and duty bound to do (at taxpayer expense). We should be paying journalists for doing their jobs for them.

  11. Journalism 101……..”If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the f***ing window and find out which is true” journalism tutor, Sally Clair.

    1. Corollary: And if it’s an opinion (the election was stolen) they’re spouting rather than a fact (like its raining) you give ’em both and let the reader decide keeping your own unlettered opinion out of it.

      1. False corollary: one cannot have an “opinion” about a provable fact.* It is a fact that Trump lost the election by over 7 million votes in the most-secure election in US history, according to Trump’s own chief of cybersecurity. Barr, Trump’s AG, found no fraud. Biden’s victory was certified by all 50 Secretaries of State, most of whom are Republican. It is a fact that multiple recounts, re-recounts and signature matches established no widespread fraud to support Trump’s bald assertion that he won by a landslide. It is a fact that 60+ courts dismissed Trump’s lawsuits that attempted to deny Biden’s victory on the grounds that there are no facts to support his claim of widespread election fraud, or that he won by a landslide. It is a fact that every poll predicted Trump would lose. It is a fact that Trump set a record for low approval ratings in the history of presidential polling. It is a fact that the economy went to hell under Trump. It is a fact that Trump lied and downplayed the pandemic and that this conduct resulted in unnecessary deaths and illness. It is a fact that Trump is one of the worst liars in political history. Trump is delusional, and his mental illness prevents him from accepting the truth about his election loss, but believing this lie in the absence of any facts and despite all proof to the contrary, is not having or expressing an opinion–it is a form of delusion. Biden’s defeat of Trump is not a matter of opinion–it is a matter of fact. What is there for a reader to “decide”? Trump has no facts, despite trying desperately to create some, and logic, based on polling and Trump’s historic unpopularity, would leave any reasonable person to conclude that he could not have won and that his claim of a landslide victory is just another lie. Believing him is a form of mental illness at this point.

        *sort of like Vida Pierce (from “Mildred Pierce”) when she blackmailed her boyfriend into giving her money because she was allegedly pregnant: She tells her mother not to plan on knitting baby garments. “Whether I’m going to have a baby is a matter of opinion. In my opinion, I’m going to have a baby. I could be mistaken.”

          1. Lighterknot, Nat’s summation is accurate. Unless you know of any Secretary’s if State who refused to certify.

        1. Nat: You are like the spider monkey, way out on the limb. It may come back on you, where you are ask how do you want/like your crow, brioled or fried? More disclosures will come.

          1. Keep on believin” How much crap you’ve been told by alt-right media has not come to pass? Wasn’t Biden never going to take office? Do you really believe that Trump is going to get Biden kicked out of office? Do you really believe that 4 years of approval ratings were rigged? How about the polls predicting Trump’s loss? Ask yourself and be honest. Your alt-right media keeps feeding you false hope, and this is abusive. Why don’t you ask yourself why you want to believe the word of someone who has lied so much?

        2. For over 16 trimesters, the DNC and press spread misinformation and disinformation about the administration’s activities. Democrat-affiliated groups: Antifa fascists (colluding with government and commercial interests) and Some, Select [Black] Lives Matter racket staged insurrections, occupations, intimidation, and neighborhood invasion campaigns across the nation.

          There were irregularities, perhaps fraud, in several Democrat districts, some rejected summarily, others pending judicial review. The election was certified on plausible rather the probable cause.

          Nearly 80% of cases are people… persons who are overweight and obese, or “fat is beautiful” and “healthy at any weight” is a comorbidity past, present, and progressive.

          Around 20% of excess year over year deaths can be attributed to Planned Parent/hood facilities and practices.

          A large minority and, in fact, majority, have preexisting (e.g. cross-reactive) and natural immunity.

          Anything less than N95 masks following strict protocol, have been established through controlled trials to produce a random effect at best, and increase infections, at worst (i.e. no source control). Transmission occurred primarily through aerosols and fecal transmission, where people were most vulnerable in lockdown conditions (e.g. greenhouse effect).

          Most people were eligible to receive early, effective, inexpensive, low-risk (i.e. 50+ year safety profile) treatment (e.g. HCQ cocktail) to mitigate cellular infection and disease progression from the beginning of the pandemic, and Ivermectin (around 90% effective) from late spring, early summer.

          There are more AER attributed to the Sars-CoV-2 vaccines than any other vaccine. It was always intended for emergency use only, and not distribution to the general population, most of whom are either immune or are eligible to receive therapeutic treatments.

          The Bottom Line

          The bottom line is that excess deaths, infections, and collateral damage can be attributed to open borders, planned parent/hood, denial and stigmatization of early treatments, masks, lockdowns, and generally intuitive state of science (e.g. cargo cult).

          1. Everything you claim is provably untrue. Hydroxychloroquine is not only ineffective in treating or preventing COVID, it is dangerous, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health just 4 months ago. Look it up. I couldn’t get the link to copy. In fact, due to danger and lack of any tangible benefit, it was recommended that no further trials be conducted. Democrats are NOT “affiliated with” ANTIFA. There was NO evidence of widespread voter fraud anyplace in the US, and there are NO pending Trump lawsuits. You have to have something more than malignant narcissism and a refusal to accept reality on which to base a lawsuit, and Trump has nothing. Your claim that Planned Parenthood causes deaths is another lie–deaths from what? Childbirth is provably more dangerous than abortion, and abortion is a tiny fraction of the services provided by PP, which includes annual well-woman care that prevents deaths from breast and other GYN cancers.

            The Bottom Line: Trump is a failure of man, a chronic, habitual liar who panders to un-American traits like racism, misogyny, xenophobia and trans and homophobia. who can never admit he is wrong, including about hydroxychloroquine, despite massive scientific evidence establishing that it is ineffective and dangerous. The US does NOT have “open borders”–this is an alt-right cutesy phrase that is a lie. You don’t even understand what “emergency use authorization means”–it means that due to emergent circumstances that need to be addressed promptly to prevent unnecessary deaths and illness, and based on enough scientific data proving efficacy and safety, and weighing the relative risks and benefits, the FDA approved the vaccine to be administered prior to full, scientific testing that takes several years. It does NOT mean that the vaccine was not intended to be administered to the general population, and it is a lie to claim that “most” of the general population in the US is immune. Our infection and death rates prove this is not true. My Bottom Line: why do you Trumpsters fall for such lies? How many times has Trump lied, and why don’t you acknowledge that he is a pathological liar who cannot be trusted?

            1. Politics invades your brain and some of the speech that comes out of the NIH. A number of diseases are treated with HCQ, and many of those at significant risk from the drug are known. People die from penicillin and every drug known to man, including aspirin and Tylenol. You don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

              Either Covid is a serious risk of death or not. If it is a serious risk (it is), then the danger of HCQ is insignificant. We do not know whether it works and under what circumstances. The evidence is mixed, and evidence from other countries has demonstrated positive results along with negative ones.

              Instead of trying to study it, the press essentially banned it. That is not how good medicine is practiced. We have accepted far worse drugs and have been using them. Some likely have no effect at all.

              SM

              1. Hydroxychloroquine has been used for decades to treat rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythrematosis. Penicillin has many forms, most of which are now obsolete because of microorganism resistance and because newer antibiotics are more effective, but those who have fatal reactions are very few. Most adverse reactions involve rashes, diarrhea, and other non-fatal problems. Fatal reactions to therapeutic dosages of aspirin and acetaminophen are rare. An overdose of aspirin can cause tinnitis, bleeding, stomach ulcers and other problems that can be fatal, and even a single overdose of acetaminophen can damage the liver–but that’s with an overdose. Hydroxychloroquine has side-effects, but for people with RA, JRA and SLE, the benefits outweigh the risks. Reliable scientific evidence recommends not taking Hydroxychloroquine unless it is for specifically-indicated conditions because there are NO benefits.

                The press hasn’t “banned” anything. Trump had no business trying to play doctor by recommending Hydroxychloroquine as a preventative and treatment for COVID. That action resulted in a temporary shortage of the drug for people with RA, JRA and SLE who rely on it. But, since he can never be wrong, and because his ego wouldn’t stand for CDC doctors hogging the limelight at press conferences, and because of his alt-right enablers, they just won’t stop claiming that it is beneficial. Worse than that is encouragement that the disciples reject reliable science, which is part of the reason for vaccine resistance. The Delta variety of COVID is here, and it is dangerous, but the believers are the ones who reject science, based on all kinds of cockamamie theories, such as the vaccine contains tracking devices or that it will alter your DNA. That is just plain stupid. In fact, the common thread for those still getting hospitalized for COVID is that they refused the vaccine. Maybe they should be required to pay for their health care, instead of spreading the cost to health insurers or Medicare and Medicaid, since it’s their fault for believing lies.

        3. False corollary: one cannot have an “opinion” about a provable fact.*
          ***********************************
          Of course, you can. In fact, most opinions are about provable facts. Fact: It’s raining. Opinions: It’s raining hard. It’s raining soft. It’s just passing through. And on and on and on….

          1. Mespo,

            Are you sure it’s Rain, smells like more piss on our backs from DC Commies to me? lol;)

              1. Let us not get to relaxed, not be prepared or exhausted, even though we see them pulling multiple Toobin’s at this time.

                Pro Tip: avoid touching stranger’s keyboards.

                lol:)

  12. Okay folks, let’s get something straight – The First Amendment protects SPEECH and the WRITTEN WORD (along with religion.) It DOES NOT PROTECT ACTIONS! If government workers violate Federal regulations, they are subject to prosecution. So are “journalists” who violate Federal regulations to get stories. They can’t be prosecuted for what they write but they sure as hell can be prosecuted for what they do.

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