Editorial: Even the White House knows its media shield law won’t protect journalists

 

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama’s proposed media shield law wouldn’t actually shield the media for government overreach and abuse. The law is really more a show of good faith than an aggressive attempt to protect the nation’s reporters, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney essentially admitted Wednesday.

During his daily press briefing Carney inadvertently confirmed what reporters and legal scholars have been saying for days – President Obama and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) media shield law wouldn’t have stopped the federal government from conducting secret surveillance on reporters at the Associated Press, nor would it have prevented DOJ’s investigation into Fox News’ James Rosen.

“I’m not suggesting that the media shield law if it were to pass tomorrow and be signed into law next week would end the discussion or would solve the challenges that this issue represents and contains within it, but he does believe that more needs to be done,” Carney said. “That’s why he has long supported a media shield law.”

The bill, which is similar to the one Schumer co-sponsored with former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in 2009, would require prosecutors to take every possible action to obtain the information it needs before violating reporters’ privacy. It would also require a court to sign off on a prosecutor’s effort to subpoena a reporter. But there’s a catch: if the Attorney General deems the investigation a matter of  ’national security,’ then the government is free to violate reporters’ First Amendment rights.

The legislation made it out of committee in ’09 but was never brought to the Senate floor, in part because the Wikileaks scandal took place soon after. Obama requested that Schumer introduce the bill into the Senate last week after the Associated Press told Congress DOJ had secretly subpoenaed reporters’ phone records.

One can only hope that the bill’s reincarnate won’t even make it that far. The legislation will not protect journalists. It merely changes the method in which the federal government can obtain the information, a fact that The Washington Post pointed out earlier this month.

“Now, it’s important to remember: virtually the only time the government subpoenas reporters, it involves leak investigations into stories by national security reporters. So it’s hard to see how this bill will significantly help improve press freedom,” Trevor Timm, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote in a blog post last week. “Worse, there’s a strong argument that passing the bill as it ended in 2010 will weaken rights reporters already have and make it easier for the government to get sources from reporters.”

President Obama and the White Press Secretary have refused to comment on the investigations. However, Obama said last week that he will make “no apologies” for DOJ’s pursuit of information it believes to be vital to keeping the United States safe. “Leaks related to national security can put people at risk, they can put men and women in uniform that I’ve sent into the battlefield at risk,” he said. “U.S. national security is dependent upon those folks being able to operate with confidence that folks back home have their backs, so they’re not just left out there high and dry,” he added.

The President also said a “balance” must be struck between liberty and security.

“We don’t question their right to conduct these sorts of investigations. We just think they went about it the wrong way — so sweeping, so secretively, so abusively and harassingly and overbroad that it is an unconstitutional act,” the Associated Press’ President Gary Pruitt said in response on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

The President is right that the security of the United States is sacrosanct. However, he and his administration are wrong to secretly investigate reporters or to punish them for doing their job, which is to report the news and protect their sources. If government officials fear they can’t privately report misconduct or important information the government is inappropriately keeping from the people, the rights and freedoms of all Americans will be in serious jeopardy.

The President’s media shield law is not a “balance” between Americans’ Constitutional rights and the government’s responsibility to keep Americans safe. It’s merely another attempt to make President Obama look good that really achieves nothing.

Comments

Comments

  1. Wallace says:

    Media should not be shielded anymore than the rest of the country. Media is only after headlines or trying to see who can get the story first, facts be damned. It’s a game of ratings not information. Seek out your own sourses and make up your own mind.

  2. Bo says:

    Obama is full of hot air. Trice try to cover up you and your administrations illegal actions. Still didn’t say why you sacrificed our four Americans. You make no sense. Keep you eyes on TelePrompTer.

Polititainment

Brand: ISIS better than conservatives
Actor Russell Brand took to Youtube Wednesday to compare terrorist group ISIS to conservatives, eventually coming to the conclusion that conservatives in power were worse than ISIS. Brand was recording yet another video aimed at attacking Fox News when he made the statements about ISIS. He was responding to Fox host Greg Gutfeld’s comments about Brand’s […]
Biden congratulates 'Veep' on Emmy win
From one Vice President to another… Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter Tuesday to congratulate actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus on her Emmy win. Louis-Dreyfus snagged her third consecutive Outstanding Actress in a Comedy series win Monday for her portrayal of a fictional vice president on HBO’s “Veep.” Last year, the VP picked up the phone […]
Emmys snub political TV shows
Most of the 66th  annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday felt like a repeat of 2013′s awards show. “Modern Family,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons all dominated the night, leaving most of the politically-themed and Washington D.C.-set shows out in the cold. Though “House of Cards”, “Scandal”, “Homeland”, “The Good Wife”, “The […]
Let's Play Emmy Bingo!

Play Emmy Bingo (specially created for lovers of political entertainment!) along with us as the winners are awarded during NBC's live broadcast Monday night.

Rick Perry's mugshot, marketing asset

Lesson: No matter how hard you try to make Rick Perry look bad, it just ain't gonna work.

White House

White House flirt Joe Biden turns on the charm for 108-year-old veteran Lucy Coffey

Joe Biden continues to brand himself the White House flirt. In a recently released video of Biden's July 25 meeting with Lucy Coffee, the vice president kisses the 108-year-old war veteran on the cheek and hand and tells her, "I'm the guy that loves you."

White House: Checked-out Obama is a media myth
THE HILL – The White House is bristling at suggestions President Obama is disconnected, checked out or out of touch. White House allies maintain that the storyline of a checked-out president is a myth drummed up by the media during the summer doldrums. “It’s bull—t,” said one former senior administration official. “This is a guy who […]
Obama’s summer vacation by the numbers
After two weeks away from the White House, President Barack Obama’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, ends late Sunday. A look, by the numbers, at how Obama spent the time while juggling his responsibilities as president, including monitoring the situations in Iraq and in Ferguson, Missouri: — 15: days, all or part, spent on the […]
Obama is halfway to becoming an EGOT winner after ‘Between Two Ferns’ appearance snags Emmy award
President of the United States might not be the most exclusive title Barack Obama holds soon. Obama is now halfway to becoming an “EGOT” winner, an elite title that only 12 other individuals including the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Helen Hayes can claim. “EGOT”  stands for the four major annual American entertainment awards: the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Winning […]

Congress

IRS says Lerner's Blackberry 'destroyed'

A senior IRS lawyer has said in a sworn declaration that Lois Lerner's BlackBerry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun to investigate her involvement in IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Youth impact reason enough to pass jobs bills
The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is in the midst of releasing 40 reasons over the course of 40 days that the Senate should take up the 40 jobs bills the House has already passed. While most of their reasons have focused on general unemployment and economic growth statistics, they turned their attention […]
UNEARTHED: Archival footage of Harry Reid smiling

From appearances, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid derives little pleasure from his job, perhaps a deputy to the paragon of joylessness. But Red Alert Politics has dug into the archives to demonstrate that it wasn't always like this.

Rubio: Obama action would kill immigration reform
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is urging President Barack Obama to forego taking executive action on immigration, warning that would kill any chance for comprehensive immigration reform. “If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” […]
House GOP hires legal representation to sue Obama
THE HILL – House Republicans have hired D.C. law firm BakerHostetler to provide legal representation to sue President Obama. House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) signed a contract on Monday for BakerHostetler to represent the House in the civil action lawsuit in a U.S. district court against the president. “The president must be held accountable, and the […]