Thursday, May 30, 2024

Lesbian Congresswoman: Gov’t Threat to Journalists is a ‘Conspiracy Theory’

'Contempt isn’t a conspiracy theory...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Thursday on protecting investigative journalists from coercion, where former CBS reporter Catherine Herridge testified about a U.S. judge holding her in contempt and fining her $800 per day for protecting a confidential source.

Much of the hearing was collegial between Republicans and Democrats, with both parties expressing disagreement with the treatment of Herridge, who was one of the few mainstream reporters working on stories such as the Biden family corruption. Herridge’s contempt charge stems from a separate story she wrote in 2017 about a Defense Department contractor with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

But while most Democrats were respectful to Herridge, one couldn’t help herself.

“Witnesses’ personal grievances are not actually attacks on the First Amendment and the free press,” said Rep. Becca Balint, D-Vt., who is a lesbian.

“From what I’ve seen in the materials, it’s clear that most of the allegations are disputes over employment and editorial decision-making in news organizations.”

Balint’s ignorant remarks didn’t go unchallenged. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., immediately corrected the record.

“Contempt isn’t a conspiracy theory or an employment dispute,” he said. “If there’s a more chilling effect on the free press … I’d like to know it.”

Herridge, for her part, said she couldn’t speak much about the contempt charge against her due to the pending litigation. An appeals court has stayed the lower court judge’s $800 per day fine pending the outcome of her appeal.

She did clarify that she has no knowledge that CBS firing her had anything to do with her reporting on Biden or the pending contempt matter.

Herridge and all the committee members expressed support for the PRESS Act, which would protect reporters from situations like hers. The PRESS Act, which was introduced in the House last December, would aim to block litigants and the federal government from prying into a reporter’s files, except when there is an imminent threat of violence, including terrorism, and in defamation cases.

“It is my sincere hope that the passage of the PRESS Act will provide similar protections at the federal level,” Herridge said. “I hope that I am the last journalist who has to spend two years or more in federal court protecting their confidential sources.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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