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Fox News Abets GOP Desire To Prosecute New York Times Over WikiLeaks

Reported by Ellen - December 10, 2010 -

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) appeared on Fox News' Happening Now today and expressed an interest in prosecuting the New York Times. That's not too surprising, given that, as Sam Stein at the Huffington Post put it, the chairman-to-be of the House Homeland Security Committee is "long known for being one of the first and loudest voices to offer his two cents on national security crises." But during his appearance on Fox, host Jenna Lee deliberately offered King an opportunity to attack The Times.

In addition to attacking The Times, King also, predictably, went after the Obama Justice Department, saying that it's "just not in their DNA to be going after or prosecuting those who are leaking government papers. They realize they have to do it but they're really not enthused about doing it."

Later, King said, "As Joe Liberman said, the other day... the next logical step could be the prosecution of the New York Times."

HuffPo's Stein noted,

(The Times) didn't obtain the secret cables, they were passed them by another news outlet, the Guardian. And even then, editors at the Times showed due diligence in ensuring that no legitimate national security crises were caused by publication. The Obama administration, for one, was given ample time to make a case as to what information they felt shouldn't see the light of day.

But Lee didn't mention any of that. Instead, she pushed the door open a little wider for attacking The Times.

Lee: Let's just talk a little about that... Some people look at Julian Assange as a freedom fighter, someone that’s providing information so people have a way to hold governments accountable. Others describe him as a cyber terrorist. He got this information illegally and he put it out there, but other news organizations like The New York Times, like The Guardian and several other major newspapers around the world have published it as well–some of it in edited versions, but they did publish this stolen information. How do you go after him and not go after them?

King: Well, in my mind we should go after both. Let’s go after Assange first, but I called four years ago for prosecution of The New York Times when they disclosed the SWIFT program, which was absolutely essential to America’s anti-terrorist efforts. It caused great harm to the war against terrorism, yet The New York Times went ahead and put it on the front page. It was totally irresponsible. Same what they did with FISA. And you know going back to the Pentagon Papers case, in that case I believe five of the judges said that even though you cannot stop a newspaper from publishing this material, there’s no reason why they cannot be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. Justice White, in particular, said he would’ve had no problem at all in prosecuting The New York Times. There is a difference between prior restraint and actual prosecution. And again, I think The New York Times acted disgracefully, irresponsibly, and it’s put American lives at risk.

Lee: And some would say they operated in a way that was good journalism and freedom of the press and it's definitely a conversation that will continue and obviously one we're not gonna solve right now.

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