Tom Cotton Rips**t Furious About Reporters Reporting, Will Send Them To Gitmo Or Maybe Fayetteville

Tom Cotton Rips**t Furious About Reporters Reporting, Will Send Them To Gitmo Or Maybe Fayetteville

Since Congress functions about as well as a ’79 Ford Fairmont on a cold morning (trust us on that one), the august body is scrambling to write before Christmas one giant omnibus bill that will fund the government for the next fiscal year. And one of the fun byproducts of this process is that congresspeople try to jam all sorts of non-spending measures that would not otherwise get a vote due to incompetence, spite, or Joe Manchin into this one giant, multi-headed King Ghidorah of a bill.

But one bill that will not make it into the omnibus this year is the PRESS Act, written by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. A version of it written by Rep. Jamie Raskin passed the House in October. The bill promises to “prohibit(s) the federal government from compelling journalists and providers of telecommunications services (e.g., phone and internet companies) to disclose certain protected information, except in limited circumstances such as to prevent terrorism or imminent violence.”

Reasonable, right? That’s about as simple and straightforward a description of a bill trying to work out a balance between press freedom and the occasional imminent national security threat as you’re going to find.

And for once, this is a measure that has a fair amount of bipartisan support. The House version passed by unanimous consent, and normally the House can’t even pass a unanimous vote on renaming a post office or proclaiming that babies are adorable.

The PRESS Act did not just have widespread congressional support. A whole range of civil liberties organizations and governmental accountability organizations and press freedom organizations and media outlets all support this bill. Shoot, even John Cusack likes it! Are you going to say no to Lloyd Dobbler? ARE YOU?

Well yes, if you are senator and angry llama Tom Cotton and you have had it up to here with those nosy journalists, what with their “asking questions” about “policies” that affect “the public,” you will let Lloyd Dobbler give you his heart and in return give him a pen.

Anyway, here is Cotton treasonsplaining why journalists are scum who should just shut up and accept whatever the government tells them:

“The PRESS Act would immunize journalists and leakers alike from scrutiny and consequences for their actions…This effectively would grant journalists special legal privileges to disclose sensitive information that no other citizen enjoys.”

Another way of putting that would be to say “this bill would allow journalists to reinforce the foundations of our democracy by acting as a check on the government doing all sorts of illegal shit in the name of the American people.” Unfortunately, we’re not Cotton’s speechwriter.

And here is Cotton, almost fifty-two years after the leak of the Pentagon Papers, still mad about it:

“The press, unfortunately, has a long and sordid history of publishing sensitive information from inside the government that damages our national security. During the Vietnam War, the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers in an effort to demoralize the American people and turn them against the war effort.”

Well, it was a little more complicated than that, General Decker.

So the PRESS Act did not make it into the omnibus bill because Tom Cotton is an asshole and the Senate has all sorts of silly and outdated customs and rules that allow one senator to substitute his judgment for that of literally hundreds of others who had some input into this legislation, the (very stupid) end.

[Raw Story / Twitter / Twitter]

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