When a journalist's home was raided by the FBI, Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson erroneously speculated about the government's motive. The journalist has now been charged with transporting child porn.
Former ABC News reporter James Gordon Meek was charged Wednesday with transporting child pornography.
The FBI had raided Meek's home last April, leading him to disappear from the public eye.
Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and others initially treated the case as a part of a Biden war on journalism.
"Do we live now in Russia? The FBI is completely and totally out of control," Glenn Beck said in a 21-minute video last fall about the apparent disappearance of a former ABC News journalist following a raid on his home. He returned to the topic the very next day, declaring it "maybe the most important story of at least the year, maybe longer," and fitting it to a narrative about a federal war on conservatives and a free press.
"This is tyranny," Beck declared. "Say his name, America. Where is James Gordon Meek?"
On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice offered some clarity, revealing that Meek, a 53-year-old, veteran national security journalist, has been charged with transporting child pornography.
Prosecutors allege that Meek manipulated children into providing him sexually explicit material — investigators were tipped off after such content was allegedly found in his Dropbox account — and boasted in a private conversation with another alleged pedophile of having raped a toddler. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
An attorney for Meek did not respond to a request for comment.
Last fall, when Beck recorded his videos, all that was known is that Meek had quit his job and disappeared from the public eye following an April 2022 FBI raid on his home in Virginia. An October report in Rolling Stone said that an indictment was being prepared but could not say why, noting only that "classified information" had been found on one of his laptops.
That was enough for others to start raising the alarm. The Daily Mail, a conservative British tabloid, said the raid — if tied to classified information — "raises serious questions about the government's approach towards journalists seeking to expose corruption or wrongdoing." The outlet published a lengthy follow-up on Wednesday, reporting on the actual charge against the reporter while also noting the earlier "fears Meek was being targeted for his trailblazing journalism, which has exposed shocking military cover-ups, friendly fire deaths, and foiled terror plots."
Others went further last fall — not mentioning the story since Wednesday's charge — and started connecting the dots. "This is disappearing someone who is investigating corruption in the government," Beck, a former presenter on CNN and Fox News, told his radio and online audience.
Instead of updating his audience on the case, Beck released a video Thursday on how to prepare for a "HUGE cyber attack." He did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in an October broadcast that touched on the raid, confessed that we "can't even really guess as to what's really going on here." But, as noted by Media Matters' Matthew Gertz, he nonetheless speculated on why a journalist might get "a visit from armed men with guns from the Biden administration," including it in a segment on how such raids are "the hallmark of a dictatorship."
Carlson did not address the development in Meek's case on his Wednesday broadcast. A representative for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rather than target him over his reporting, it appears the Justice Department was actually "taking extra precautions given Meek's status as a journalist" before announcing any charges against him, Rolling Stone reported in December, citing sources familiar with the investigation. That report came after the department issued new guidance generally prohibiting investigators from targeting reporters over classified information gathered as part of their job.
The conservative website RedState suggested Meek might even be framed, suggesting a veteran journalist would not leave classified information on their computer and stating that "there are lots of things being manufactured by the government these days."
"[T]his is now Biden's America," the site's Jennifer Oliver O'Connell wrote in October. RedState, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has not mentioned the case since.
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