By: E&P Staff
CNN commentator Bill Bennett?s stated wish earlier this week, on his national radio show, that certain reporters ought to go to jail instead of collecting their Pulitzer Prizes, seemed more within the realm of possibility on Friday after the CIA dismissed an employee for allegedly leaking information to one of those journalists, Dana Priest of The Washington Post.
She won a Pulitzer this week for her articles on the CIA?s ?black sites? or secret prisons in Eastern Europe. The other reporters targeted by Bennett for possible jail time were the two Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporters, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau.
Appearing on CNN on Friday morning, before news of the CIA firing arrived, Bennett was asked by John Roberts about his controversial remarks. On his radio show, Bennett had clearly called for imprisonment for the reporters, charging that their reporting was not ?worthy of an award? but instead was ?worthy of jail.” Bennett on Friday, however, claimed that he had merely wondered ?whether they deserved the Pulitzer more, or actually more deserving was a subpoena or perhaps going to jail.?
Then he pointed out that former New York Times reporter Judy Miller ?went to jail, and I don’t know why we should treat these folks differently than Judy Miller.?
Robert pointed out the cases were not analogous.
According to the transcript provided by Media Matters, Roberts said, ?Judy Miller went to jail for contempt of court?. These people haven’t been charged with contempt of court.?
Bennett replied, ?Well, if James Risen is asked, right, or Dana Priest is asked, ?Who are your sources?? the people who gave them this information committed a crime, leaked classified information. If they are asked, and they do the same thing Judy Miller does, which I expect they would, don’t you? Then they would go to jail. Also, there’s the Espionage Act.?
Roberts responded: ?You know, they haven’t been asked yet, though.?
On Thursday night, when E&P asked Priest?who was picking up an Overseas Press Club award for the same stories–about Bennett’s comments, she replied, “He says we should go to jail because we have damaged national security, but he hasn’t made the case that we have actually damaged national security. So either we didn’t damage national security and this is part of a campaign to intimidate the media into not reporting things, or he knows something that is classified” — which he shouldn’t — “and he’s in the same boat we are.”