Catherine Herridge, a CBS reporter, is in legal trouble as she faces contempt charges for her refusal to reveal her confidential source. The issue revolves around a 2017 story Herridge covered while at Fox News, concerning a Department of Defense-funded school under federal investigation for its ties to the Chinese military.
The US District Court for the District of Columbia, under Judge Christopher Cooper, compelled Herridge to participate in a sworn deposition about her confidential source. This order came in response to a lawsuit filed by Chinese-American scientist Yanping Chen against the FBI. Chen had subpoenaed Herridge to ascertain the identities of her sources in relation to the story.
Herridge asserted that she should not be compelled to unveil her source, citing her First Amendment rights as a journalist. However, Judge Cooper, an Obama appointee, disagreed and ruled that Herridge must disclose her source. In his August ruling, he acknowledged the importance of a free press and the role of confidential sources in investigative journalism but maintained that Chen’s need for the evidence overrode Herridge’s First Amendment privilege in this particular case.
Despite the court’s order, Herridge maintained her stance of not revealing her source during the deposition. Consequently, she now faces contempt charges and the potential of serving jail time, as reported by The Epoch Times.
In light of these developments, two possible outcomes emerge: Herridge may soon be held in contempt, followed by an immediate appeal of that order, or her sources may decide to release her from the privilege, thus sparing her from the consequences of contempt, as mentioned in an order issued by Judge Cooper on Friday. This legal battle underscores the ongoing debate over journalists’ rights to protect their sources, even when faced with legal pressure to reveal them.