New court documents confirm that a former attorney general worked on behalf of a major campaign donor to seize the videos and computer equipment of an undercover journalist reporting on the crimes of that campaign donor. In a sane, non-corrupt media environment, this story would be a major concern of every journalist who cares about First Amendment protections.
Instead, you won’t hear corporate media journalists speak out against it at all. That’s because the former attorney general is Vice President Kamala Harris and the beneficiaries of her corruption are Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF), making the story effectively off-limits for corporate media.
In 2016, as California attorney general Harris ordered a raid on the home of anti-abortion activist and undercover journalist David Daleiden, who had broken news about Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue trafficking. Many of Daleiden’s videos were recorded at National Abortion Federation conferences. With Harris’ search warrant in hand, law enforcement seized Daleiden’s computer, camera equipment, and unreleased footage, which should have been protected by the California Shield Law.
We already know thanks to previously reported email records that Harris’s office corresponded with Planned Parenthood officials (from whom Harris had received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions) on orchestrating public responses, filing police reports, and even drafting legislation targeting Daleiden. Now, new documents produced via court discovery show that Harris’s office handed the videos seized from Daleiden over to NAF’s lawyers, just one day after law enforcement raided his home.
These documents include records from NAF’s civil attorneys showing that on April 6, 2016, attorney Alexandra Laks billed her client $262.50 to “coordinate review of new videos.” Daleiden’s apartment was raided on April 5, 2016. Daleiden and his attorneys had not released any new videos for discovery in their civil case, and would not do so for another year and a half, meaning any “new videos” likely came from Daleiden’s unpublished materials.
Billing records also confirm what we learned from email records, that Harris was strategizing with Planned Parenthood on developing legislation that criminalizes undercover journalists for publishing and distributing recordings of private communications with abortion providers. The billing records show that on March 23, 2016, the same day that Planned Parenthood executives met in the AG’s office, NAF attorney Derek Foran billed his client for a conference call with “California AG’s office” on “legal research” on a redacted topic.
It’s one thing for the media to entirely ignore what is happening behind closed doors at the nation’s largest abortion provider. We know how journalists feel about abortion, thus their lack of coverage is entirely expected. But on corporate media’s treatment of fellow journalists and defending the First Amendment, the double standard is glaring.
When the Trump administration revoked a journalist’s White House press badge, the corrupt corporate media treated the story like a journalist had been thrown in jail. Here we have evidence that Harris was plotting to use her position of power to throw a journalist in jail for his reporting, and the story might as well not exist.
California law explicitly states that a journalist’s unpublished materials cannot be seized via search warrant, and yet that’s exactly what Harris did at the behest of her political donors. This new evidence that she also passed on those illegally seized materials for the purposes of prosecuting a journalist for his reporting should be even more frightening for anyone concerned about free speech in this country. Any journalist who claims to care about his own First Amendment rights should be sounding the alarm about the vice president’s blatant corruption.