June 13, 2013

Yesterday Rep. Peter King said on Fox News that “legal action” should be taken against Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald for threatening to release the names of CIA agents. That claim surprised the Erik Wemple Blog, CNN and many others — primarily because we’ve never heard Greenwald make any such threat.

On Twitter yesterday, Greenwald said this:

 

In a CNN appearance last night, Greenwald took the countercharge to another level: “I was really staggered that a United States congressman, the chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, actually could go on national television and make up an accusation, literally fabricate it out of whole cloth — namely that I have threatened to uncover the names of covert CIA agents, as a way of arguing for my arrest and prosecution inside the United States for the crime of doing journalism. It’s bad enough to call for that; it’s extraordinarily menacing that he did so based on a complete falsehood.” (King is a member, and former chairman, of the Homeland security committee).

In his capacity as Homeland Security committee member, King must have access to some secret Greenwald interview, one that the rest of us cannot possibly pull up on our computers. Or something like that. Along with a likely flood of other media, the Erik Wemple Blog has asked King’s office to cite the source of this allegation. Nothing yet.

An enormous weight now rests on King. He now must either produce this clip of Greenwald’s CIA-outing threat, or he must admit that what he said was wrong, a step that would require retracting his conclusion as well. In the clip above, CNN’s Anderson Cooper says that King’s office didn’t respond to the network’s requests for more information on this matter. Failing to respond won’t work; this one isn’t going away.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.