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Inside the Beltway: PRESS Act aims to stem government snooping on news outlets

Inside the Beltway: PRESS Act aims to stem government snooping on news outlets

Here’s some legislation of note: Reps. Kevin Kiley, California Republican, and Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrat, have introduced “The PRESS Act” — some bipartisan and bicameral legislation of interest to the press.

That “PRESS” acronym stands for “Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying.” The bill has a specific goal.  

“The Press Act ensures reporters cannot be compelled by the government to disclose their confidential sources or research files, and also protects their data held by third parties like phone and internet companies from being secretly seized by the government without the opportunity to challenge those demands in court. The bill shields journalists’ communications records from the government, with narrow exceptions for terrorism and threat of imminent violence or harm,” says background information on the legislation, released Friday by Mr. Kiley’s office.



“As acknowledged by America’s founders, the freedom of the press to report on and disseminate information is critical to our republic. Our bipartisan legislation further codifies these First Amendment principles into law and will mitigate infringement upon the Constitution by the federal government,” the lawmaker said in a written statement.

A companion bill also has been introduced by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

While 48 states and the District of Columbia have some form of shield law or reporter’s privilege, protections vary significantly. There also is no federal shield law, and state laws do not apply to investigations by federal agencies.

“In a world where information is power, the role of reporters as truth-seekers and watchdogs cannot be understated. Recent events, however, have cast a chilling shadow over their pursuits. Law-enforcement agencies have resorted to clandestine tactics, subpoenaing emails and phone records in an effort to unmask confidential sources,” said Mr. Lee in a written statement, also released Friday.

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“Not only is this legislation imperative to shield journalists from unnecessary government surveillance, but it is also necessary to protect the public’s right to access information, hold their elected officials accountable, and actively participate in representative government. We must seize this opportunity and ensure that the Fourth Estate remains an indomitable force in its quest for truth,” he said.

The bill has won endorsement from 25 media-related organizations, including the Radio Television Digital News Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and Reporters Without Borders.

TIM SCOTT’S PRIME DIRECTIVE

Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican and presidential hopeful, has revealed his basic plans of action should he win the White House.

“My first executive order would be to restart the Keystone XL Pipeline. My rationale is that energy security is national security. We can do it on our own and we should do it on our own,” Mr. Scott said in a campaign message released Sunday.

“The second thing I would do is secure our border. For less than $10 billion, we could finish the wall, and for $5 billion, we could use the surveillance technology that is currently available to detect fentanyl so we can save American lives as soon as possible,” he noted.

President Biden and the radical left refuse to make any progress on things real Americans are about. It’s an absolute failure on their part, and I will not sit idly by,” Mr. Scott said.

SEE FOR YOURSELF

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released a report titled “The Potential Links Between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Origin of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

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The subject has been much in the news lately.

“The COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 required the Intelligence Community to declassify information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ODNI said in a statement.

The office has already submitted the 10-page report to Congress on these pandemic matters.

Curious? Find it at DNI.gov — under the Newsroom category, specifically “Recent News.”

ALL’S FAIR

It’s the season for state fairs … and state fair foods.

The cuisine of the midway has become so popular that it now has its own designation — the first-ever National State Fair Food Day is July 11, according to NationalToday.com, a news site which tracks these celebratory designations.

“People flock to the fairgrounds to enjoy the stalls, livestock, rides, and gifts. But let’s be honest, the experience is all about the fried and delicious food, on sticks, and otherwise,” the site said.

All those delicious and decadent deep-fried and chocolate covered goodies have also warranted a state-by-state review from

TasteofHome.com, a site which obviously dwells on delicious things and how to prepare them. Here’s a dozen examples of state fairs and their all-time greatest signature dishes from the master list compiled by Maggie Ward. a contributor to the site:

Boiled peanuts (Alabama); reindeer sausage (Alaska); Thanksgiving taco (Arkansas); maple bacon sundae (Georgia); Mexican funnel cake (Colorado); tiger-stripe ice cream (Missouri); Vikings-on-a-stick meatballs (Montana); deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Nevada); apple-cider donuts (New Hampshire); honey pepper bacon dog (Oklahoma); deep-fried Goo-Goo Clusters (Tennessee); and king-sized turkey legs (Utah).

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POLL DU JOUR

• 56% of U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of President Biden; 92% of Republicans, 57% of independents and 17% of Democrats agree.

• 61% of men and 53% of women also agree.

• 32% overall have a favorable opinion of Mr. Biden; 4% of Republicans, 25% of independents and 73% of Democrats agree.

• 30% of men and 35% of women also agree.

• 11% overall have “no opinion”; 4% of Republicans, 18% of independents and 10% of Democrats agree.

• 9% of men and 11% of women also agree.

SOURCE: A CNN poll of 1,350 U.S. adults conducted June 13-17.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @harperBulletin.

  • June 25, 2023