This reporting appears as one of several scoops featured in this week’s edition of Confider, the newsletter pulling back the curtain on the media. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.
Rolling Stone’s big scoop last week, headlined “FBI Raids Star ABC News Producer’s Home,” read like a Tom Clancy thriller and raised serious concerns that the feds raided a journalist over his work.
However, there’s more to the story than meets the eye, ABC reporters, producers, and executives told Confider.
The article opened with a dramatic retelling of the April raid on ABC News investigative producer James Gordon Meek’s Arlington apartment, complete with quotes from a “self-described police-vehicle historian” neighbor and a claim that the feds had found “classified information” on his laptop.
“Independent observers believe the raid is among the first—and quite possibly, the first—to be carried out on a journalist by the Biden administration,” the magazine reported.
Inside ABC News, however, staffers were baffled by this framing, since Meek resigned from the network via email on April 27—the same day as the raid—citing “personal reasons” and told friends it was to “save colleagues and the company any embarrassment,” according to two people familiar with the situation.
Although the FBI declined to comment on the probe, the DOJ was more forthcoming, suggesting in a statement to Confider that the raid was not actually about Meek’s reporting work, despite what the Rolling Stone article seemed to indicate. “While the department cannot speak to any specific case or activity, the Department strictly adheres to the Attorney General’s July 2021 memorandum prohibiting the use of compulsory process with regards to members of the news media acting within the scope of newsgathering activities,” wrote Dena Iverson, principal deputy director in the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs.
ABC News sources similarly poured cold water on the idea that Meek was being probed for his journalism: “If the purpose of the FBI's search is to find classified documents the first call you'd be making would be to ABC's lawyers because you want the protection of the company," one such insider told Confider. “We would’ve defended him; ABC’s lawyers would be right there,” another network insider said.
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There’s plenty more about the Meek ordeal that is sure to raise eyebrows.
For starters, Confider has learned that while reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NBC News have chased the story over the past few months, ABC News has not at all investigated the raid on their own ex-colleague even though network boss Kim Godwin had been briefed on the matter.
Meek, who according to multiple sources has since deleted photos of firearms and ammunition from his personal Facebook page, has not been charged with any crime.
Notably, the Rolling Stone report originally stated that Meek “frequently collaborated with ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir,” but that line was quietly removed from the story without any editor’s note, according to a cached version of the story archived in the Wayback Machine.
And while the Rolling Stone story—authored by ace investigative scribe Tatiana Siegel—further claimed that Meek has “vanished,” his friends told Confider that he is living with his mother.
Meek and his attorney, Eugene Gorokhov, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. ABC News declined to answer several questions from Confider, instead saying via a statement: “He resigned very abruptly for personal reasons and hasn’t worked for us for months, and we don’t comment or report on speculation.” A rep for Rolling Stone did not respond to a request for comment.
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