Democrat Chuck Schumer has decided the government knows who really needs to be shielded from the constitutional idea of freedom of speech, and he is even calling it a shield law. But that shield has some significant cracks in it…
Via the AP:
A supporter of a bill to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal confidential sources said Friday the measure has the backing of the Obama administration and the support of enough senators to move ahead this year.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, spoke optimistically about prospects for the measure, identifying five Republicans who would join with Democrats and independents on a bill that he said would address a constitutional oversight.
While the first amendment protects freedom of the press, “there is no first amendment right for gathering information,” Schumer said at The New York Times’ Sources and Secrets Conference on the press, government and national security…
…Schumer discussed the bill’s provisions and how, if it became law, it might affect journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reported on National Security Agency’s secret surveillance based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
“It’s probably not enough protections to (cover) him, but it’s better than current law,” Schumer said.
The bill’s protections would apply to a “covered journalist,” defined as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information. The individual would have to have been employed for one year within the last 20 or three months within the last five years.
It would apply to student journalists or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years. A federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a “covered journalist” who would be granted the privileges of the law.
The bill also says that information is only privileged if it is disseminated by a news medium, described as “newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, news agency, news website, mobile application or other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise); news program, magazine or other periodical, whether in print, electronic or other format; or thorough television or radio broadcast … or motion picture for public showing.”
While the definition covers traditional and online media, it draws the line at posts on Twitter, blogs or other social media websites by non-journalists.
Rick Moran at the American Thinker writes:
Why such a restrictive definition of “journalist”? Because anyone can expose wrongdoing by the rich and powerful if they have an internet connection and a confidential source and that’s just too scary for the powers that be. It’s ridiculous to think that just because someone doesn’t get paid to be a “journalist” that this somehow makes them less a legitimate purveyor of news than some MSM hack. This bill is all about controlling the flow of information and managing the sorts of people who are privileged enough to be protected.
The GOP House has their own ideas about “covered” journalists but there, too, the pesky bloggers are not protected. A true media shield law would force the government to compel disclosure of confidential sources from anyone only when national security or the threat of a terrorist attack was involved. Otherwise, as long as the information being disseminated is accurate, it’s not the government’s business.
Amazing how freedom of speech will now have to be approved for average citizens, and given only to those who have the government seal of approval. This certainly clears up the problem of dissent, which used to be patriotic, and is now considered un-American, racist, or phobic, and downright unfair.