The chairman of the House's homeland security committee scoffed on Tuesday at objections by the media to the Senate's proposed anti-leak legislation, and told his counterparts on Capitol Hill to spurn any attempts to water the bill down.
The bill, which targets government intelligence agencies, was drafted by Senate intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein in response to a rash of high-profile national security stories in the New York Times. In its current form, it would severely restrict the members of the agencies allowed to speak to the press, with major penalties for people who defy the rules. In particular, journalists have expressed dismay at the proposal to almost entirely dispense with so-called "background briefings" from intelligence officials on key issues of the day.
In response to public outcry from media and open government groups, the Senate signalled in recent days that it is considering modifying some of the more controversial provisions in the bill.
Speaking on Fox News, Peter King said that he hoped the bill would stay as is, and he lashed out at its critics.
"First of all, I'm tired of these critics, the civil liberties types, the New York Times," he said, calling the bill "perfect."
King said the media was putting its own interests in maintaining its intelligence sources ahead of national security.
"The media has its own agenda," he said. "We've seen what the New York Times has done. The New York Times has put secrets on Page One. The New York Times doesn't care about American security on these issues. That is yellow journalism at its worst."
He concluded by saying the bill was a "defining moment" for the government.
"Are we going to allow people in the administration to leak out national security secrets for political benefit and put American lives at risk and do so because we want to cater to the media?" he said.
King is not the only House Republican to hit out at the media over leak legislation. Congressman Trey Gowdy said at a recent hearing that journalists should be hauled in front of grand juries and jailed if they don't reveal their secret sources.