Now, the White House asks Schumer to bring back a media shield bill

Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

Sen. Chuck Schumer plans to reintroduce a media shield bill that would allow media organizations to appeal to a federal judge before being forced to submit records and sources to government investigators.

"This kind of law would balance national security needs against the public's right to the free flow of information," Schumer said in a statement. "At minimum, our bill would have ensured a fairer, more deliberate process in this case."

The new push for the shield law comes after the White House's liaison to the Senate, Ed Pagano, called Schumer on Wednesday morning and asked him to reintroduce the bill. (That news was first reported by the New York Times; a White House official confirmed the account to Capital.)

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was grilled about why President Obama didn't sufficiently support such a bill in 2009.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Carney pointed to the president's support for such a measure when he was a senator and presidential candidate in 2008, and said the subsequent legislative history was "complicated."

The administration opposed an initial draft of the Free Flow of Information Act, but eventually supported a compromise version that would allow federal judges to protect reporters from subpoenas for information, if the judge determined that the news value of the reports exceeded the government's interest in uncovering the sources of a leak.

The bill tilted the standard in favor of the executive branch, especially where a "significant" threat to national security was involved, but would allow news outlets an opportunity for recourse that they don't have now.

The legislation never quite recovered from the initial skepticism of the White House. It passed the Judiciary Committee, but failed to come to the floor for a vote.

A spokesman for Schumer said he plans to reintroduce the compromise legislation that previously passed the committee.