William Barr is asking questions the media don't want asked

It’s true that Obama did not emit as many tart words for the press in his eight years as president as Trump has in his two and a half. But Trump has come nowhere near to challenging Obama’s record as the president most inclined to sic law enforcement on the press since Woodrow Wilson himself. Liberal Democrats aren’t necessarily the best friends of press freedom.

Nor, it seems, are they necessarily friends of a citizen’s right of privacy or a candidate’s right to seek public office without government surveillance. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, when Barr made the point that government “spying” had occurred on the Trump campaign, Democrats and the press expressed horror. You’re not supposed to say “spying,” apparently, even though Democrats and media such as the Times have routinely used that word as a conveniently short and understandable synonym for government surveillance.

As Barr told Crawford, spying is appropriate if it’s “adequately predicated,” and it’s unclear whether the spying on the Trump campaign was. Certainly, the contents of the partisan and unverified Steele dossier would not have provided legitimate grounds on their own.