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Washington DC – September 12 and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a so-called, ‘shield law,’ to protect reporters and journalists from having to reveal confidential sources in the new age of Mobile Meta Data.
The Free Flow of Information Act passed the committee by a 13 to 5 vote with bi-partisan support.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) co-sponsored the bill with South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham to bring to the federal government protective measures for eminent journalists.
Only the state of Wyoming lacks both the legislative and judicial precedents to offer protection to journalists unwilling to publically testify to confidential sources.
The 1972 case of Branzburg v. Hayes caused the Supreme Court to find in a five to four decision that journalists did not hold the Constitutional Right to keep confidential information from the court simply because it was a sound business practice.
It was the President who called on Senator Schumer to reintroduce a failed 2009 bill while instructing the Justice Department to develop guidelines to protect journalists according to Reuters.
An Administration presiding over the Court Martial of Bradley Manning while instituting the Espionage Act more than any other Executive in history just lost a very public intelligence war for the rights to Independent Contracted Spy Edward J. Snowden after he fled to the foreign media for aid to play David against America’s Military Industrial Goliath. More oversight was needed.
So perhaps the Free Flow of Information Act should not be universally seen as a Shield Law as media companies like the publisher of the Wall Street Business Journal have voiced.
Democrats Dick Durbin (IL) and Diane Feinstein (CA) made sure that National Security and law enforcement interests may always pry open a local journalist. In addition, primary source aggregates that violate governmental classification protocols like WikiLeaks would not protected by the law.
The law is not to protect cut-and-paste journalism or voracious blogging, but independent contractors working for a media company.
Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge took to Twitter Friday to bash Feinstein as a Fascist for differentiating between an, ‘under-aged,’ blogger and reputed professional working for a masthead.
Assuming that the bill gets out of the Senate, it may do so for all the wrong reasons. Senators may find themselves drawn to the bill for its censorship, grouping Information Distributors into the prosecutable and legitimate.
Lord knows that might save further Administration embarrassment if the next Edward J. Snowden knew that there were federally backed Shield Laws to help him tell is stories of corruption and abuse.
However, bearing in mind that the latest The Economist/YouGov poll rate the President’s approval among adults at %38, Congress may take the opportunity to dissect the Administration’s motivation for ear-marking additional money to overlord local state laws in a game of, ‘Is there anything this Administration can do right?’
With the departure of Time’s managing editor Rick Stengel to join the ranks of the Administration as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, there are some 21 media members who abandoned accountability to hitch a ride with the Administration according to The Atlantic.
Putting the possibility of black mail aside, the point seems to be that the President is not only a grass-roots media darling but also one in the halls of power.
Breitbart’s own John Nolte noted that CNN, CBS, and ABC heads enjoy Administration family ties.
David Rhoades, current CBS President, has a brother, Ben Rhoades, who serves as the President’s National Security advisor.
Senior ABC national correspondent Claire Shipman’s spouse is White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Washington Bureau Chief and CNN Vice President Virginia Mosely’s spouse – Tom Nides – is the President’s deputy Secretary of State.
Ben Rhoades was editor on the famous Benghazi Talking Points that lead the media away from the Administration cover-up of Terrorist activities to destroy an Embassy of the USA.
And the Administration’s trenchant media supremacy does not stop there; Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, has a sister, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, with the ear of President as Special Advisor to Barack Obama.
Such a media-powerhouse of a President with a rapidly falling adult approval rating at around %38 may easily draw the rancor of the House of Representatives for even suggesting to throw more money to protect journalists from themselves.
Reps may suggest that any media Shield Law designed to keep reporters from having to testify against their own work is irrelevant as the Supreme Court has already decided that reporters who indite themselves have justly incited specific questioning to violate the trade secrets of their industry.
The President that closed the White House to the public may get a slap on the wrist for attempting to tier journalism into legitimate and disreputable.
Under the Federal Shield Law, a suspected violation of the Espionage Act is still enough to begin a Federal search of any local journalist who harbors the illegal intent to publish secrets. (So the next Edward J. Snowden would not necessarily be protected despite his position as Free Lancing Contractor.)
DOJ will report yearly the number of times it gained search warrants and subpoenas of journalists.
Under new guidelines, Justice Department officials would grant 45 days to journalists to reveal sources and may grant one extension of 45 days; however, there will be no notice that reporter’s material was subpoenaed if it harms an investigation.
A DOJ Director of Public Affairs & Privacy / Civil Liberties Officer will review media requests without any veto power to shield journalists at all.
A News Media Group of journalists will be established to continue a dialogue established by the founding Administration in what has already been dubbed the Ministry of Truth as a representation the Administration’s Bully Pulpit.
Writers would lose all privileges in cases mitigating death, kidnapping and bodily harm.
In cases of crime, writers could only withhold information if the crime was leaking but only for so long.
Senator John Coryn of Texas, one of five Republicans against the bill, stated, ‘A new law is not what we need.’
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