Citing the \u0022staggering\u0022 number of leaks that have emerged from the Trump White House over the last several months, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced during a press conference on Friday that the Justice Department is gearing up to intensify its pursuit of those who disclose sensitive and classified information.\u0022The crackdown is a backdoor way of attacking journalists on whom the public relies to be informed about government misconduct.\u0022 —Jesselyn Radack, ExposeFactsSessions went on to declare that the Justice Department will seek to punish not just those who leak the information, but also the news organizations that decide to publish it. The department will soon be conducting a \u0022review\u0022 of its \u0022policies affecting media subpoenas,\u0022 Sessions said.These comments—which come in the midst of President Donald Trump\u0026#039;s sustained attacks on journalists and the media—were viewed by press freedom groups, journalists, and civil libertarians as \u0022a direct attack on the First Amendment.\u0022Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU\u0026#039;s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in response to Sessions\u0026#039;s press conference that \u0022[e]very American should be concerned about the Trump administration\u0026#039;s threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists,\u0022 as it represents an attack \u0022on democracy as a whole.\u0022\u0022These first months of the Trump administration dramatically illustrate\u0022 the necessity of a free press, Wizner concluded. \u0022Can anyone seriously argue that our country would be better off if the public received all of its information through official channels alone?\u0022Jesselyn Radack, director of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts, echoed these sentiments in a statement on Friday, arguing that Sessions appears bent on fostering a \u0022McCarthy-esque culture within the federal government.\u0022\u0022The Justice Department\u0026#039;s crackdown on leaks wrongly targets and punishes national security whistleblowers, who have no meaningful internal channels for dissent or meaningful protection from retaliation,\u0022 Radack said. \u0022The crackdown is a backdoor way of attacking journalists on whom the public relies to be informed about government misconduct.\u0022Journalists also weighed in on social media:But here, Sessions threatens the free press — which is protected by the First Amendment. DOJ \u0022reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas.\u0022 pic.twitter.com/OI2hipCqKh— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) August 4, 2017This is a direct attack on the First Amendment. This is not okay.https://t.co/W82UZdWCdj #leaks— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) August 4, 2017subpoenas to get at sources are probably the most legit and no-B.S. threat to press freedom— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 4, 2017The context for Sessions\u0026#039; investigations is not just more leaking - it\u0026#039;s Trump urging Comey to jail reporters for *publishing* information: pic.twitter.com/R7VvcHJTeQ— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) August 4, 2017According to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, \u0022Sessions\u0026#039;s comments seem intended to have a chilling effect on journalism, by making reporters and their sources think twice before publishing information that the government does not like. That will leave leave all Americans less informed about what the Trump administration is doing behind closed doors.