Media Balks at Band-Aid Shield Law
May 16, 2013 1:28 PM EDT
A shield law might protect some reporters, but media critics say the one Obama has proposed is deeply flawed—and won’t make up for snooping on AP reporters. David Freedlander reports.
After the Department of Justice revealed this week that federal agents had subpoenaed months of phone and computer records from editors and reporters at the Associated Press, the White House responded on Wednesday with the legislative equivalent of a dozen roses and an “I’m sorry” card for the media: a promise to push for a federal shield law.
The Department of Justice is under fire from journalism organizations after a phone-tapping scandal. (J. David Ake/AP)
Such a law—which was proposed in 2009 but quickly died—would permit journalists who are compelled to give up their sources to appeal to a federal judge. The judge would then decide if there was a compelling public interest for prosecutors to proceed. The burden of proof would be highest in national security matters, and lowest in civil matters. Essentially, it offers protection for journalists—protection the industry has been demanding for decades......