First Amendment to the United States Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
Bill to protect journalists clears Senate panel
by David G. Savage, The Los Angeles Times
The Senate Judiciary Committee approves a media shield bill to keep ‘real reporters’ from having to testify on their work.
Journalists and bloggers who report news to the public will be protected from being forced to testify about their work under a media shield bill passed by a Senate committee Thursday.
But the new legal protections will not extend to the controversial online website Wikileaks and others whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.”
Senate sponsors of the bill and a coalition of media groups that support it hailed Thursday’s bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee vote as a breakthrough. [..]
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website. [..]
Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a “covered journalist” as someone who gathers and reports news for “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any “legitimate news-gathering activities.”
But the bill also makes it clear that the legal protection is not absolute. Federal officials still may “compel disclosure” from a journalist who has information that could stop or prevent crimes such as murder, kidnapping or child abduction or prevent “acts of terrorism” or significant harm to national security.
At Esquire’s Political Blog, Charles Pierce argues that if we accept a shield law then we must accept who that law protects thus giving government the power to define who is a journalist. We have a shield law for the press, it’s called the First Amendment and whether Dianne Feinstein likes it or not, we bloggers are journalists and protected.
Jesus H. Christ on a 4000-euro claimer, I leave the country for a week and Dianne Fking Feinstein gets to redefine my profession?
Hey, Dianne, here’s the thing on that First Amendment business. I get to define what you do for a living. And if I decide to define what you do for a living is to be a mewling apologist for the national-security community and a lapdog for the surveillance state, I get to do that, and I get to do it in a newspaper, or video, or on-line, or on a pamphlet stapled to a telephone pole outside your door, if I so choose. You get to sit there, collect your government salary, raise money from plutocrats, and shut…the…hell…up.
Which part of “Congress shall make no law…” do you not understand? [..]
It has been argued — and, occasionally, by me — that the worst thing that ever happened to journalism was that it became the professionalized province of the educated. [..]
There are far too many people right now in Washington who are far too comfortable in being a de facto part of the country’s power structure. Their profession is not mine. Let me be quite clear. If you accept the Congress’s right to define what a journalist is, you are a miserable traitor to the profession you presume to practice. You have, quite simply, become something less worthy than an informer, something lower than a jailhouse snitch. I’ll leave it to my man Chuck Todd to take the king’s shilling. Me? I’ll stand with the 17-year old and his own website, and, with all the faith I ever have had in my constitutional right to do so, we both will tell Dianne Feinstein to fk off, thank you. Stuff your privilege. I have my rights.
Thanks Charlie and f**k you, Dianne.
(All emphasis in aerticle is mine)