Sen. Feinstein Wants to Strip Independent Journalists’ Rights
By Kevin Mathews
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Freedom of the press may be one of the founding principles of the United States, but Senator Dianne Feinstein is on a mission to limit these powers. The fourth-term California Democrat has proposed an amendment to narrow the definition of journalism and give privileges to only those she deems “real reporters.”
Currently, most states have shield laws designed to protect journalists, but no such laws exist on a federal level. Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved national shield laws, but Feinstein was unhappy with how broadly journalist could be interpreted and wrote up an amendment to address her personal concerns.
Feinstein’s suggestion is blatantly unconstitutional. The First Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” yet here is a member of Congress trying to do precisely that. By applying a strict definition to who can be considered a journalist, Feinstein is not only discrediting, but also destructing independent and citizen journalism.
Shield laws allow reporters to protect their sources and prevent them from having to testify against them in court. These laws are safeguards that ensure critical news is disseminated and the populace remains informed without government interference.
Feinstein seems chiefly concerned with affiliates of Wikileaks and other such agencies calling themselves journalists. She has been one of the most vocal Senators in calling for prosecuting Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for espionage. Evidently, publicizing some of the most critical information of our time that other more “reputable” agencies wouldn’t touch does not count as an act of journalism, particularly when the leaked info makes Feinstein look bad.