Home > Free Speech > Senate Judiciary Committee advances media shield law that tries to limit freedom of press

Senate Judiciary Committee advances media shield law that tries to limit freedom of press

September 13, 2013
Antique Typewriter Keys by Holly Chaffin

Antique Typewriter Keys by Holly Chaffin

This summer there was a lot of Senate debate over the creation of a media shield law. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 (S987) passed the Senate Judiciary committee yesterday. At its core this bill is meant to prevent government agencies from forcing news reporters from testifying about sources of information gathered during investigative processes. In reality though the bill would create a special class of person that Freedom of Press applies to; thereby restricting the Freedom of Press privileges of most other people. I’ve blogged before about Freedom of Press and how it applies to ALL Americans.

Luckily there are some in DC that understand the dangers of such a bill. This from the Hill:

Conservatives, however, blasted the legislation for giving Congress power to decide who qualifies as a legitimate journalist.

“The remedy that this legislation seeks to provide is to differentiate between different types of journalists and to determine in the Congress’s mind who’s legitimate and who’s not legitimate,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a critic.

Cornyn said Congress shouldn’t pick and choose who’s protected by the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment makes no such differentiation,” he said.

Senator Feinstein disagrees. Instead of actually debating the topic, she shown her intolerance for bloggers and whistle-blowers:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website.

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” she said.

In South Dakota blogger Pat Powers was recently recognized as a journalist. Ironically a media shield law such as one Feinstein would like passed would potentially remove such a label from Mr Powers (although with his new column for KSOO he probably would count as a journalist). I really wish the judge in that case had declared Pat Powers had Freedom of Press privileges as an American, and not as a journalist.

Going forward the bill will likely pass the Democrat controlled Senate with no problem. However the House of Representatives are expected to sit on the bill. When the Senate does vote I will be watching closely to see what Senator Thune does. This could be a good chance for Thune to make a statement about First Amendment issues leading into his likely 2016 Presidential run.

  1. September 14, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog.

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