ABC News' senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper challenged White House Press Secretary Jay Carney after he started off the briefing by praising the three journalists who have recently died in Syria.
The New York Times' Anthony Shadid died of an apparent asthma attack last week while crossing the Syrian border. The Sunday Times of London's Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik were killed during a shelling attack on Wednesday in Homs.
Tapper asked Carney about the praise the White House has recently given to journalists who have been killed. Tapper then asked, "How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?"
He added, "Currently I think that you’ve invoked it the sixth time, and before the Obama administration, it had only been used three times in history. You’re — this is the sixth time you’re suing a CIA officer for allegedly providing information in 2009 about CIA torture. Certainly that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States. The administration is taking this person to court. There just seems to be disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States."
Carney said he did not want to speak to any particular case. He defended the praise he has given to brave reporters "who are placing themselves in extremely dangerous situations in order to bring a story of oppression and brutality to the world." He added, "I think that is commendable, and it’s certainly worth noting by us. And as somebody who knew both Anthony and Marie, I particularly appreciate what they did to bring that story to the American people."
As for Tapper's question about the Espionage Act, Carney said, "I think that there are issues here that involve highly sensitive classified information, and I think that...divulging that kind of information is a serious issue, and it always has been."
Tapper fired back, "So the truth should come out abroad; it shouldn’t come out here?" Carney responded, "Well, that’s not at all what I’m saying, Jake, and you know it’s not."
This is not the first time Tapper and Carney have clashed at White House press briefings. In December, Tapper had his feathers ruffled when Carney addressed a reporter in the back of the press room and skipped over his question.