After a report in The Atlantic reported a White House official referred to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as “chickenshit,” Fox News’ Ed Henry pushed White House spokesman Josh Earnest over a seemingly double standard regarding leaks.
Henry questioned Earnest, asking why the White House and the Justice Department have gone after reporters such as James Risen and James Rosen for leaks, yet aren’t pursuing who leaked the derogatory quote to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, which could do harm to U.S./Israeli relations.
Ed Henry: On that question, Ron raised a good point about the leaks in a grand jury. The administration has spoken out on them. The administration also has a long track record over the many months about complaining about leaks involving national security. We’ve seen threats to reporters like James Risen, who could potentially be thrown into jail over leaks to him. James Rosen’s phone records gone through because of leaks to him.
My question going back to the Israel story is, why then are you kind of sloughing off this idea that you kind don’t care who leaked that story that insulted of the prime minister of Israel? You have gone after reporters again and again in this administration to find out who leaked information to them. And then when it comes to insulting the prime minister, you don’t seem to care who leaked it.
Josh Earnest: Again, I do not think that is an accurate reflection of the policy or of our views of the Prime Minister of Israel.
Henry: Hasn’t the Justice Department gone after a whole series of reporters?
Earnest: No, they haven’t. They actually put in place measures under the leadership of the attorney general to ensure journalists are able to do their jobs. The attorney general made a pretty clear statement about what I think we would all agree is a common sense principle.
We have made it really clear and the attorney general made it clear what I think is a common sense principle, which is that journalists should not face jail time for just doing their jobs. So I guess the point is, my view, and maybe I am even speaking about my own personal view here, my view about the effective way to deal with this situation…is to make sure that all of you and your readers and viewers understand precisely what the administration’s policy is when it comes to Israel and the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The fact of the matter is, the United States continues to have, to this day, an unbreakable commitment to the security of the nation of Israel. That is why you see the ongoing close coordination when it comes to matters related to Israel’s security and that is one reason that president’s national security adviser Susan Rice is hosting a high-level Israeli delegation to talk about these matters. These are discussion that happen every six months and they just happen to be starting up tomorrow.
Henry: Not to belabor it, I am trying to make the point that, as a reporter, I certainly do not believe in leak investigations, but for you to suggest this administration has not launched more leak investigations, to get information, who leaked what, gone after reporters, and now, and now in this case, it doesn’t seem to matter. I am curious as to why it was leaked.
Earnest: Well it seems like you’re in a position where you’re advocating a leak investigation be conducted here.
Henry: I’m curious as to why you don’t wantt to know who leaked this.
Earnest: I think the fact of the matter is, Ed, what I’m mostly concerned about is two things. One, understand the administration’s commitment to a principle about legitimate journalism, and this administration’s commitment to the ongoing security relationship that exists between the United States and Israel. From this vantage point, that is the most I could do, but it is the most important thing. It’s important for Israel, and certainly for prime minister Netanyahu, although I do not think he has any ambiguity about the situation. He speaks to the president on a regular basis, as early as this month in the oval office.