Skip to comments.Press Groups Pressure Senate Leaders to Pass Shield Law
Posted on 06/12/2014 11:58:11 AM PDT by PoloSec
Bill would allow journalists with knowledge of a crime to refuse to testify
A group of the nations largest media companies, press organizations, and First Amendment advocacy groups urged Senate leaders to promptly pass a bill that would protect reporters from being compelled to reveal their sources in court.
In a letter released Wednesday and first reported by Politico, the groups pressed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to pass the Free Flow of Information Act. The bill would establish a federal law establishing a so-called reporters privilege, which would shield journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources in court.
The ability to protect confidential sources is the oxygen that investigative reporting needs to survive, the organizations wrote. Without it, journalists cannot provide the public they serve with the spirited, independent journalism that is the lifeblood of American debate and democracy.
The Free Flow of Information Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last September, but so far has yet to make it to the Senate floor. The bill includes a national security exception and only offers journalists qualified immunity from subpoenas. It was seen as a compromise to assuage national security concerns on the committee.
Supporters of shield laws say they are necessary to allow the press to cultivate and protect confidential sources, especially on national security matters. However, critics say such laws inappropriately place reporters on a pedestal above regular citizens, relieving them of a civic duty they would otherwise be compelled to perform.
Five Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against advancing the bill last year, such as Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas).
This idea of saying you could have information about a crime and you are immunized of having to partake in a basic act of American citizenship strikes me as pretty odd to say the least, Cornyn said.
Signatories of the letter included the Associated Press, Reuters, Gannett, McClatchy, the New York Times Company, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fox News, CNN, CBS, ABC, the Newspaper Association of America, the National Press Club, and dozens of other newspaper, broadcast, and online media associations.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), one of the chief sponsors of the bill, said earlier this year he has the votes to pass the legislation, which also has the support of several Republicans and the White House.
Last month, the House passed a bill in a surprise vote that included broad protections for reporters from Department of Justice subpoenas. Unlike the Senate version, the bill included no national security exemptions.
Reids office did not immediately return requests for comment.
If they have knowledge of a crime, shouldn’t they, as good citizens, report it? Oh, that’s right. The criminals are Democrats. Should certainly keep that under wraps.
What about bloggers and regular posters? What is a ‘reporter’ these days.
This is a slippery slope allowing the government to determine who is and who is not in media as a reporter, a commentator, an analyst etc.
See a crime, say what you see or plead the fifth.
I cannot think of a law that I would like to see less. It is nonsense to allow a reporter to report something and say he has to protect his source. You will find a lot of early guessed and shots in the dark reporting if this law passes. We already have some of that. A newsman should be compelled to reveal the basis for what he reports, no question.
They'll be out in the cold.
In reality, they can simply make stuff up and claim it was from a confidential source. The MSM would love this!
Investigative reporting has been dead since the ‘30’s. This is just an excuse to help hide the left’s criminal behavior.