Inside the Beltway: A call to protect ‘newsgathering’

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It’s been a little more than a month since The Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had gained access to its phone records. The news organization came out swinging: CEO Gary Pruitt declared the action a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” and “unconstitutional.” He took his case to the airwaves.

But Mr. Pruitt is also a First Amendment lawyer and has been mulling things over since. Now he’s ready to explore “the way forward,” he says, this time taking his case to the National Press Club.

He’ll go public with his thoughts Wednesday, ready to “outline ways to protect newsgathering against government interference,” and take questions. He’ll reach this stage 40 days after the Justice Department informed him May 10 that the federal government had indeed gathered records for multiple phone lines assigned to AP journalists in April and May 2012. The federal agency was most likely seeking the source of leaked information for an AP story about a foiled terror plot.

Does Mr. Pruitt have the support of the public to protect “newsgathering” and those who report clandestine information in the name of transparency? Well, maybe. A Gallup poll reveals that 59 percent of Americans say it was right for The Guardian and The Washington Post to publish secret information from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; 33 percent say it was wrong.

MUST-SEE TV

Jeb Bush, Allen B. West, Herman Cain, Reince Priebus, Sarah Palin et al: C-SPAN will feature live coverage of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference Friday and Saturday. Consult C-Span.org for information.

AILES EXPLAINS ALL

“Regardless of your political party there are some themes that I believe we should all agree on: Government must reinforce the value of the individual and life. Government must have programs to help individual independence flourish and not reinforce dependency. Votes must not be purchased by corrupt organizations or individuals on false missions of mercy. Freedom cannot be compromised anywhere. Anti-Americanism needs to be answered every place, every time. By every one of us.”

So said Fox News CEO and founder Roger Ailes upon receiving the Bradley Prize, a $250,000 award recognizing those who have strengthened the cause of freedom. Mr. Ailes has already donated his money to charity.

“American culture is unique and must be included in all discussions of culture. It is America that has fed more and freed more people on Earth than all the other countries put together. You know how I know this is a great country? Because everybody is trying to get in, and nobody is trying to get out,” Mr. Ailes told his audience.

“I have heard complicated treatises on world affairs. I have listened to theories of foreign policy. I have listened to the criticism of the United States. I’ve watched even some Americans systematically try to dismantle the greatest country on Earth and yet we are still strong. We’re strong, because of three words I believe: God, country, family,” he concluded.

IRS: THE DISAPPEARING SCANDAL

When news broke that the IRS had targeted conservative groups, broadcast networks were hot on the trail. NBC, CBS and ABC ran 96 stories about the matter for the first two weeks — May 10 through 23, according to an analysis by the Media Research Center. Thirty-one more stories followed during the next week.

But this week? There was only one story, which aired Tuesday on ABC.

“When the IRS scandal first broke, even reliably liberal network reporters saw it as a real threat to President Obama and his political agenda. The fact that they have so quickly dropped it from the news agenda is just more evidence that the broadcast networks filter their so-called news through a partisan lens,” says Geoffrey Dickens, deputy research director at the watchdog group.

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