One of the aspects of the FBI-AP phone records scandal that I think a lot of people don't recognize is that the only reason we even know about it is that the Obama administration WANTS us to know about it. The FBI could have utilized legal means to obtain the AP's phone records that did not require the government to notify the Associated Press. The very fact that they used a method that requires notification should tell us something.
I don't know about you, but I think the message is crystal clear. The Obama administration is putting professional journalists on notice that they only want the media to report news that is fed to them BY the government. If the media chooses to report news that is not handed to them by government lackeys, then there is a good chance that they will be investigated and possibly prosecuted! In other words, this is an admission that involves not so veiled intimidation.
This is not to suggest that the mainstream media acts as the government's watchdog anymore. By and large, they already report mainly what the government spoon feeds them. However, every now and then, the mainstream media does do its job, but soon they might not because they don't want the federal government going after them. We've got to remember that the mainstream media is big business and they certainly don't want to do anything that might conceivably impact the scared bottom line.
The real worry here is that American mainstream TV, radio, newspapers and even the web may come to resemble the state-run media in nations run by authoritarian regimes. Anything that is reported must first be cleared by government censors. If this happens, then the New York Times will have to change its motto from "All the news that fit to print" to "All the news the government allows us to share."
When this happens, you know that George Orwell will be rolling in his grave!