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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 22nd, 2013
05:04 PM ET

Analysis: Reporter labeled 'co-conspirator' by DOJ

A Fox News reporter is caught in the middle of what is sarcastically being called 'a conspiracy to commit journalism.'

Not only did the Justice Department label James Rosen a "co-conspirator" for soliciting information from a State Department contractor for a story, but Fox News is now reporting that the DOJ seized the phone records of Rosen's parents, and of at least five other phone lines associated with Fox News.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that the FBI sought and received a warrant to search Rosen's email back in 2010 to find the source of a leak.

Keep in mind, there is no allegation that Mr. Rosen bribed, threatened or coerced anyone to get the information.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the incident earlier this week.

"I cannot comment on a specific ongoing investigation, I certainly share, and I think most Americans do, the president's belief that we need to have a press that is able to pursue investigative journalism, and that we have to defend the First Amendment," said Carney.

"I also think it's very important, as members of both parties have said, that we need to make sure that leaks are not tolerated, because leaks can endanger the lives of our men and women, and endanger our national security needs to be taken very seriously," Carney said.

In an opinion piece, the New York Times accused the Obama administration of going overboard to find and muzzle insiders, writing, "Obama administration officials often talk about the balance between protecting secrets and protecting the constitutional rights of a free press. Accusing a reporter of being a "co-conspirator," on top of other zealous and secretive investigations, shows a heavy tilt toward secrecy and insufficient concern about a free press."

We are journalists at CNN, and obviously have a bias.

But even if you side with this president over those who challenge him and his administration, it is important to remember the precedent these actions set going forward. Perhaps when it is not your guy who is in the White House.

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