Journalists, Herridge and Attkisson, Plead With Congress to Uphold Freedom of The Press, Safeguard Sources

Written by James Robertson.

Journalism faces a daunting challenge as government pressures threaten to undermine the freedom of the press. Two distinguished investigative reporters, Catherine Herridge and Sharyl Attkisson, made a poignant appeal to Congress on Thursday, advocating for the passage of legislation aimed at protecting journalists from having to disclose their confidential sources.

Call for Legislative Protection

During a session with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, the need for the PRESS Act—Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act—was emphasized. This act would shield journalists and telecommunications firms from being compelled by the federal government to reveal protected information, barring cases of terrorism or imminent violence.

The Stakes for Press Freedom

The hearing, titled “Fighting for a Free Press: Protecting Journalists and their Sources,” underscored the increasing encroachments on First Amendment rights. Herridge, who has faced legal consequences for her commitment to protecting sources, shared a personal anecdote that highlighted the emotional toll of this battle. “One of our children recently asked me if I would go to jail… to protect my reporting sources,” Herridge recounted, stressing the dire consequences of the current legal landscape for press freedom.

United Front for Change

Alongside Attkisson and Mary Cavallaro from the SAG-AFTRA union, Herridge urged legislative action to forestall a chilling effect on investigative journalism. The trio argued that without such protections, the essential watchdog role of the press could be severely hampered, leaving corruption and misconduct hidden from public view.

Our Take

The imperative to protect journalists and their sources is more than a matter of press freedom; it is a cornerstone of our democracy. The ability of reporters to hold the powerful accountable without fear of retribution is fundamental to a free society. Congress must act swiftly to pass the PRESS Act, ensuring that journalists can continue their vital work without the threat of legal persecution or personal loss. This legislation isn’t just about protecting individuals; it’s about preserving the integrity of our democratic institutions.

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