For several years now, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been attempting to get a federal reporters’ shield law on the books. Former radio Talker Mike Pence (R-IN) has been instrumental in pushing a shield bill through the House, where it passed by a convincing 398-21 margin, and Pence’s Indiana delegation colleague Richard Lugar (R-IN) has been among those trying to get the Senate to follow suit. The New York Times is urging senators not to be “cowed” by “near hysterical opposition from the Bush administration,” which is playing up fears of another domestic terror attack as a reason to squash the bill. NYT quotes Pence, who said, “The only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press,” and it urges swift Senate action despite White House qualms.
RBR/TVBR observation: Us? We’re all for the shield, but we’re not all that worried about pushing it through right this minute. For starters, most states have a reporter’s shield in place. And both major presidential candidates, Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) are among the vast majority of legislators who support the measure. So if Congress decides to wait until next year, when a friendly arm will be wielding the executive pen regardless of who wins the election in November, we think that would be entirely reasonable allocation of one of Capitol Hill’s scarcest resources: time.