White House press secretary Jay Carney said he and President Obama discussed press freedoms Monday after the spokesman was peppered with questions about the Justice Department’s targeting of Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen.
“I can tell you that in our conversation yesterday, he reiterated just how important he believes it is that reporters, that all of you and your colleagues are able to do your jobs in a free and open way,” Carney said.
“If you're asking me whether the president believes that journalists should be prosecuted for doing their jobs, the answer is no,” Carney said.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Justice surveilled Rosen and examined his phone and email records as they considered prosecuting him as complicit in the leak of classified information from the State Department.
Carney reiterated Tuesday that the White House could not comment specifically on an ongoing criminal investigation, but that he had discussed reporters' concerns with the president directly.
The Fox case is the second time in two weeks the White House has come under criticism for Justice’s actions in going after the source of national security leaks.
Justice acknowledged last week that it secretly subpoenaed phone records of the Associated Press in searching for the source of a leak.
Asked if he personally confronted questions about publishing classified information during his tenure as Time Magazine's Washington bureau chief, Carney said he had not, but that he was “at the very least more intimately aware of these issues.”
“In terms of my past experience, it's not particularly relevant, but, because I do, I understand and appreciate, as does the president, the broader questions here,” Carney said.
With regards to both the AP and Fox cases, Justice has insisted its actions were in accordance to applicable laws and policies designed to safeguard First Amendment rights.