Stephen Kim Agrees to Plea Deal in North Korea Leak Case

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Yesterday I wondered whether the infamous “Friday afternoon news dump” was overblown. Put simply, does releasing embarrassing stuff on Friday really reduce the amount of coverage it gets? I’m skeptical.

Today, bmaz says the news dump is alive and well. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who was fingered last year as the guy who leaked North Korean intel to a reporter, agreed to a plea deal this afternoon:

As you may recall, this is the infamous case where the Obama/Holder DOJ was caught classifying a journalist, James Rosen of Fox News, as an “aider and abettor” of espionage….The fully justifiable uproar over the Rosen treatment by DOJ eventually led to “new guidelines” being issued by the DOJ. The new guidelines are certainly a half step in the right direction, but wholly unsatisfactory for the breadth and scope of the current Administration’s attack on the American free press.

But now the case undergirding the discussion in the Stephen Kim case will be shut down, and the questions that could play out in an actual trial quashed. All nice and tidy!

You can read more about it here. But I’m not sure this says much about the Friday news dump. I don’t think anyone really expected this case to go to trial, given the fact that Kim basically confessed, and I doubt that today’s announcement would have gotten a lot of attention no matter when it had happened. It’s the kind of thing that bmaz and I are interested in, but for most people it’s just a routine follow-up to a story they barely even heard about in the first place.

Plus the news dump didn’t work! This story isn’t getting banner headlines or anything, but right now it’s on the front page of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News Politics, Politico, and USA Today. On the wire service side, both AP and Reuters have moved pieces about the plea deal. That’s about as much attention as something like this was ever likely to get.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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