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TV Reporter Herridge Held In Contempt For Not Revealing Source

A federal judge held investigative reporter Catherine Herridge in civil contempt for refusing to divulge her source for a series of Fox News stories about a Chinese American scientist who was investigated by the FBI but never charged. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington, D.C., imposed a fine of $800 per day until Herridge reveals her source, reports the Associated Press..Cooper wrote that he “recognizes the paramount importance of a free press in our society” and the critical role of confidential sources in investigative journalism, but the court “also has its own role to play in upholding the law and safeguarding judicial authority.”


“Herridge and many of her colleagues in the journalism community may disagree ... and prefer that a different balance be struck, but she is not permitted to flout a federal court’s order with impunity,” wrote Cooper. The case has been being watched by media advocates, who say forcing journalists to betray a promise of confidentiality could make sources think twice before providing information to reporters that could expose government wrongdoing. “Holding a journalist in contempt for protecting a confidential source has a deeply chilling effect on journalism,” Fox News said. “FOX News Media remains committed to protecting the rights of a free press and freedom of speech and believes this decision should be appealed. ”The source is being sought by Yanping Chen, who has sued the government over the leak of details about the federal probe into statements she made on immigration forms related to work on a Chinese astronaut program. Herridge, who has been laid off by CBS News, published a series for Fox in 2017 that examined Chen’s ties to the Chinese military and raised questions about whether the scientist was using a professional school she founded in Virginia to help the Chinese government get information about U.S. servicemembers.


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