Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) no longer has the votes to pass a proposed media shield law, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview this week.
Speaking with Breitbart, Cornyn called the proposed shield law a “bad idea” that won’t pass.
“If he had the votes to pass it, it already would have been passed,” Cornyn said. “This isn’t about passing legislation, this is about distracting the public’s attention and changing the subject from the failed policies of this administration. I think you could put this in that same category.”
Schumer spokesman Matt House disagreed with Cornyn’s statements and said his office is confident the bill will pass.
“Between the Republicans who supported the bill in committee, the Republican cosponsors of the bill and a Democratic caucus that will be united in support of the bill, we are confident it has the votes to pass,” House said in an email.
Schumer predicted on Friday that the Senate will pass his bill providing protections for journalists this year, calling it “very, very likely.”
The “Free Flow of Information Act” passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in September and has the support of the Obama administration, Schumer said, after some compromises about national security protections were made. It would strengthen protections for journalists by restricting the government from compelling them to reveal sources or confidential information.
Cornyn told Breitbart that the bill would exclude new media operations including bloggers and citizen journalists, which could end up hurting conservatives, who tend to have more writers not in traditional journalism roles.
“They want to pick and choose which journalists are covered,” Cornyn said. “In other words, if you’re a blogger they might not cover you, but if you work for The New York Times they might. Given the changes in the way we get information and the way we consume news, that really smacks to me in essence of government licensing who’s an official ‘journalist’ for the purposes of a shield law and who’s not. If there is one thing I can glean from the First Amendment, it is that government should not be in the business of licensing the news media.”
While the bill’s protections apply to a “covered journalist,” defined as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information, it would also apply to student journalists and prolific freelancers. A federal judge could also declare an individual a “covered journalist.”