Hush, Hush: Veteran Journalist Catherine Herridge Is NOT Caving

By Javier Sanchez | Sunday, 03 March 2024 05:15 AM
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In a recent development, Catherine Herridge, an Emmy-winning journalist renowned for her coverage of national security and intelligence, was held in civil contempt by a federal judge.

The ruling was made on Thursday due to Herridge's refusal to disclose her confidential sources in a case related to an FBI investigation.

The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Christopher Cooper, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. Judge Cooper imposed a daily fine of $800 on Herridge, but the enforcement of this fine has been postponed to allow the journalist an opportunity to appeal the decision.

The fine is a coercive measure aimed at forcing Herridge to comply with an order to testify about her sources. These sources were used in a series of stories published six years ago about Yanping Chen, a Chinese American scientist.

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In August, Judge Cooper ordered Herridge to provide a sworn deposition regarding a confidential source she used in a 2017 story. The story, which she covered while working for Fox News, centered on a Department of Defense-funded school under federal investigation for potential ties to the Chinese military.

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The order for Herridge to disclose her sources was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by Yanping Chen against the FBI. Chen subpoenaed Herridge in an attempt to uncover the identities of her sources.

However, Judge Cooper, an Obama appointee, ruled that Chen's right to evidence in the lawsuit outweighs the qualified privilege journalists have under the First Amendment.

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In his August ruling, Judge Cooper wrote, “The Court recognizes both the vital importance of a free press and the critical role that confidential sources play in the work of investigative journalists like Herridge. But applying the binding case law of this Circuit, the Court concludes that Chen’s need for the requested evidence overcomes Herridge’s qualified First Amendment privilege in this case.”

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In his Thursday order, Judge Cooper warned of the significant implications his ruling could have for the journalistic community. He acknowledged the importance of a free press and the role of confidential sources in investigative journalism, but also emphasized the Court's duty to uphold the law and safeguard judicial authority.

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This ruling comes on the heels of CBS' decision to seize all files from Catherine Herridge following her dismissal from the network. This action included materials that could potentially reveal information about confidential sources, as reported by Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, in The Hill.

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Turley's article, titled “CBS faces uproar after seizing investigative journalist’s files,” highlighted the concerns that have arisen within the CBS journalistic community. Herridge’s colleagues were disturbed by the network's unprecedented move to take possession of her work materials, which included sensitive information on sources promised confidentiality.

The seizure of Herridge’s files, which encompass her notable career at both CBS and Fox News, has sent a “chilling signal” through the ranks, indicating a potential crackdown on journalistic freedom and source protection.

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