Montana Attorney General Tim Fox (R) suggested that Associated Press reporters who were threatened after their personal information was leaked online brought it upon themselves, Mother Jones reported on Friday.
"Whether or not there is a chilling effect I guess the media, the journalistic profession needs to contemplate when they ask for information whether or not they are creating a chilling effect in their own profession," Fox told Montana Public Radio (MPR) when asked about the threats, which followed his office's denial of an AP request for a copy of the state database concerning concealed firearm permit holders. A 2013 state law made such information classified.
According to Mother Jones, after denying that request in July 2013, Fox alerted law enforcement officials and county attorney's offices across the state. Shortly thereafter, conservative broadcaster Aaron Flint posted a copy of Fox's message to authorities on his website.
The Missoulian reported that the AP filed a report with Helena police after photos of reporters' homes, as well as personal information, began to appear online, along with threats like, "Associate Propaganda – they will know when they see my muzzle flash."
Fox denied to MPR that his office had any role in the information spreading, while blaming reporters for pursuing the story.
"Some reporters have blogged that I have initiated these things and my office has initiated it. But its been the media that's run with this," Fox told MPR. "That's what the media does. The media asks for information. They did so on who it was that requested the concealed weapons permit information and then they wrote their stories."
[Image: "Angry Man Holding The Lap Top" via Shutterstock]