White House pushing new federal shield law

In damage control mode after revelations that the Department of Justice seized records from Associated Press reporters, the White House is pushing a federal media shield law that died in the Senate four years ago.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced the media-protecting legislation at the request of the White House, according to a White House official.

The Free Flow of Information Act would protect journalists from being compelled to testify about their confidential sources, unless all other avenues are exhausted and exposure is in the public interest.

Under a compromise struck in 2009, the measure would let federal judges deny a subpoena aimed at a journalist if they found the benefit the public would gain from learning of the news outweighed the importance of government authorities identified who leaked the information. This would include, in some instances, the public release of classified national security information.

Schumer’s proposal would apply not only to mainstream media reporters but unpaid bloggers who gather and disseminate news.

Obama supported a federal shield law while he was in the Senate and during his 2008 campaign. After pushing for the national security changes he endorsed the 2009 compromise. But the bill stalled the following year amid concerns over Wikileaks.

 

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Vincent Bzdek · May 15, 2013

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