Fox & Friends co-host Kilmeade advocated “Office of Censorship” in wake of NY Times banking surveillance story

On June 29, several Fox News media figures suggested that the U.S. government should “put up the Office of Censorship” to screen news reports to determine whether they “hurt the country” or are of “news value,” in the wake of a New York Times article disclosing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions.

On the June 29 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Brian & The Judge, co-host Brian Kilmeade, who also co-hosts Fox News' Fox & Friends, suggested that the U.S. government should “put up the Office of Censorship,” in the wake of reports in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal detailing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity. Similarly, during the June 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host E.D. Hill wondered if it would be appropriate for the U.S. government to create an “Office of Censorship.” During an interview with Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) about The New York Times report, Hill asserted that such an office, previously established during World War II by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, could screen news reports to determine whether they “hurt the country” or are of “news value.” The New York Times has been singled out for criticism by numerous conservative media figures, including many on the Fox News Channel, as Media Matters for America has documented.

Hayworth and Brian & The Judge co-host Andrew P. Napolitano both challenged the need for an “Office of Censorship,” although Hayworth went on to characterize “those in journalism who have taken it upon themselves to become the arbitrators of what should be national security” as displaying a “nationally suicidal” reasoning.

From the June 29 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Brian & The Judge:

NAPOLITANO: [T]he Japanese did learn that we broke their code, and so they started using a new code.

KILMEADE: And guess what? What would you rather have? The Japanese knowing that we broke their code or a decision saying that journalists are allowed to write anything they can or want to write because they think the public needs to know. See, I'm more into the ends justifying the means. And what they do is you can sunset this, Judge. The same way they have the Patriot Act sunsetted. You put up the Office of Censorship. You get a consensus to journalists to analyze and then you realize what FDR realized early. Winning is everything. Freedom is -- you don't have any freedom if the Nazis are the victors. You have no one to trade with if Western Europe falls. That's the reality. You're in love with the law, but I'm in love with survival.

NAPOLITANO: I'm in love with your freedom, and I want you and me all the people we work with --

KILMEADE: You can't have it both ways. You can't have it both ways.

NAPOLITANO: Of course, we can. We have it both ways now. We can say whatever we want and the government can't censor us and the government can still fight the war on terror. If we were to allow some office of the government to decide what journalists can say, that would be the same that the King of England imposed on newspapers in England and in the U.S. and that prompted the Revolution. It would be about the most un-American thing you can imagine. How can we fight a war to bring freedom to another country, to bring freedom of the press to another country when we're crushing freedom of the press here at home?

KILMEADE: Not crushing -- preserving our freedom by preserving our secrets because war is not a free thing. Intelligence is not something to be shared: It's to be coveted and used to our advantage. Here's what Roosevelt did. He appointed Byron Price, a respected journalist, to run the office. Price accepts the post on the condition that the media can voluntarily agree on a self-censorship. The Office employs 14,000, and they are civilians, to monitor cable, mail, and radio communications between the United States and other nations. The Office closes in 1945. Our nation still flies. The flag still soars.

NAPOLITANO: Scaring me to death, Brian, because I know they'd come after [Fox News host Bill] O'Reilly and me and you'd have to visit us in Gitmo.

KILMEADE: No, they wouldn't. You're not doing anything anti-American.

From the June 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

KILMEADE: We've been talking over the last week about how The New York Times on Friday outed the super secret SWIFT [Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication] program that tracked terrorists' financing. Well, our next guest wants to revoke The New York Times' Capitol Hill press credentials.

HILL: Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth joins us from Washington. Good to have you back with us.

HAYWORTH: Thanks, E.D., and good morning, Steve.

KILMEADE: Good morning.


HILL: What about -- in the past, we have had, at times, an Office of Censorship, where people review what is about -- is something that was -- it's going to be big, you've got to run it through and say, “OK. Does this hurt our country or is it of, you know, news value?

HAYWORTH: Well, E.D., I don't know that we need an office of Censorship. What we do need to rediscover, if you will, is a notion that I guess was borne out in World War II. Stephen Ambrose, the late biographer of Dwight Eisenhower, writes very eloquently of a situation prior to D-Day, when Ike called together the war correspondents in -- in England and said, “Fellas, just thought you ought to know, we're going to go in early June.” And Ambrose, in that wonderful biography, says to a man, the war correspondents stopped writing, and one asked, “General, why did you tell us?” And Ike responded, “Because you're good Americans and I know you will not jeopardize the lives of fellow Americans.”

We all need to rediscover that, especially those in journalism who have taken it upon themselves to become the arbiters of what should be national security and some who argue that no, they're really not so much citizens of the United States, now they are citizens of the world, neutral observers of the scene. That's a strange type of reasoning here and it's certainly -- I won't call it politically correct. I think it's nationally suicidal.

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