Bipartisan push to protect power of the press

Lawmakers want Justice Department to get federal court's approval before seizing journalists' records


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," May 23, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: So, for years now, the Obama administration has insulted and tried to marginalize FOX News. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.

RAHM EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president looks at it, we look at it is: it's not a news organization so much as it has a perspective.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: They're not really a news station.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration. That's pretty big megaphone.



PERINO: It didn't work out very well to them, because most of the stories we have been talking about, in the show so far were doggedly reported by FOX News reporters, turns out one of them, James Rosen, he is the one who then gets targeted by the Justice Department and his phone records looked at. We're going to get into that a little bit more into detail in a second.

But today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers took action. They introduced a bill to prevent this from happening again which I find very weird, Greg, because we already have a law that prevents this. It's called the First Amendment.

Why do we need another law?

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: I've never heard of that.

This is great because it's really got to drive everybody else in the media crazy because the way the White House looks at FOX News is the way they should look at the press. It should be an adversarial relationship and almost as though Obama is saying, I really don't respect you enough to fear you. That's what he's saying to everybody else.

So, every time he makes fun of FOX News, that means FOX News is doing their job. And actually, it goes back to a dream of the past. It's not -- the attention to FNC is not about arguing, it's about silence.

Groups like Media Matters, for example, are devoted to helping the White House to silence Fox News. And it goes back to the glorious time in the garden of liberal Eden before there was talk radio, with all media was liberal. And they just wanted to go back to that.

PERINO: And now, there was so much unity. This bill that was introduced today, Bob, there were 17 Democrats and three Republicans, which to me they didn't do enough work to try to get --

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: That bill has been sitting around for several years. White House said they would support it and sign it when through. It's more complicated as saying the First Amendment because you are dealing with a series of highly complex intelligence issues that you do need some very specific guidelines for the journalists.

I think good news about this for FOX News is that Rosen has been championed now by most of the other press corps who feel the same --

PERINO: New York Times editorial page.


PERINO: New York Times editorial page.

BECKEL: Yes, New York Times editorial page.

PERINO: Let me show you one thing and I'm going to get Eric's thoughts on this. This is list of all the phone records that we know that the Justice Department was looking at.

Numbers that were seized included Fox Business Network, the Fox News Washington bureau, Rosen's cell phone, his parents' home, the White House bureau and State Department bureau where Fox and other media outlets have offices.

Eric, have you ever seen the left -- the mainstream media unify, did you ever think you'd see a day they unify behind Fox?

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: I'm not sure. I keep hearing them saying, let's make sure they don't overplay their hand and what -- look, that's disturbing enough.

What gets thrown around in the media, oh, yes, maybe Fox was -- maybe Rosen was followed, or his phone numbers were traced but they are tracked and his parents.

Look at that, that list showed literally hundreds of lines that could have been watched and analyzed.


BOLLING: We talked about this yesterday, they used Espionage Act to get access to these numbers. Espionage Act, do you know how important that is? That's big.

James Rosen is being -- the search warrant that was issued to Rosen's stuff, Mr. Kim and Mr. Rosen Espionage Act. Where is the same treatment to the people who leaked President Obama's kill list? I'll say it again, I said it yesterday. On the front page of the New York Times, I can't remember the reporter who broke the story.

But where is the Espionage Act applied to these two gentlemen?

BECKEL: The Espionage Act back in 1938, I believe. And it seems to me you need some new legislation to update that.

PERINO: But reporters, Andrea, you have been a press secretary, reporters doing their job is not against the law. You're not co- conspirator. That's what they do. Sometimes it's a bummer if they find out something that was supposed to be a secret program.

But it goes forward, you don't target them and then afterwards.

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: And the way the affidavit reads, you would think Rosen is in the KGB. I mean, a flight risk. He can change disguises. I mean, it's very strange.

There is nothing criminal about the whole thing.

GUTFELD: He does impressions.

TANTAROS: He does do impressions, that is true.


TANTAROS: There is nothing he has done in his reporting that is criminal whatsoever. Nothing has to do with criminal behavior. And I will point out this. The White House does like some members of the media. In fact, on Monday when they were drowning in scandals, they had some liberal reporters for a secret meeting at the White House.

Let's see, Jonathan Capehart, Ezra Klein, Ari Shapiro of NPR spotted going in. Next day, I don't know, maybe some nice headlines for the president?

BECKEL: Can I correct one thing? The Espionage Act was 1917. That's even worse, not 1938.

Seems to me, if you are going to be doing things, you need to do it under an act that is modernized. And that one clearly is not.

GUTFELD: Can I go back to something I said yesterday. This is more support for my belief that we should punish government and ground it for one year, put saltpeter in the government's diet so that this turgid toad is sapped of blood, block all affects of expansion and stop -- I mean, America can actually do this. We can just announce moratorium on any government action.

TANTAROS: Three years -- can we do three years until Obama is out of office, though? One year is short.


PERINO: I think you need to get this going on the old Twitter.

BECKEL: You are part of the government. You vote. The government is what you get when you vote.

GUTFELD: I know.

PERINO: OK, this is a good discussion. We're going to keep on this one. Yes.

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