The Department of Homeland Security posted a contract request this week for "Media Monitoring Services," which will compile a database of hundreds of thousands of journalists, bloggers and "media influencers" for the federal government. After an outcry on social media, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman tweeted "this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media."
The work request from DHS seeks a firm that has the ability to monitor up to 290,000 global news sources; ability to track media coverage in up to 100 languages and the ability to "track online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media."
The work request also seeks the ability to build lists of journalists based on beat, location, outlet type/size and journalist role. Creating an online "media influence database" is also included.
DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton tweeted that "despite what some reporters may suggest," this is "standard."
"Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists," Houlton wrote.
Responses are due April 13.
The news comes amid attacks on the media by President Trump, who frequently calls mainstream media outlets "fake news." Watchdog organization Freedom House said in its 2017 press freedom report that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in 13 years -- including attacks by Mr. Trump.
"But it is the far-reaching attacks on the news media and their place in a democratic society by Donald Trump, first as a candidate and now as president of the United States, that fuel predictions of further setbacks in the years to come," the report said.