Journalist Ordered to Pay $800 a Day Until She Reveals Source

Catherine Herridge is expected to appeal
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2024 12:30 AM CST
Updated Mar 3, 2024 7:32 AM CST
Journalist Ordered to Pay $800 a Day for Not Revealing Source
People take photos of the FBI building headquarters in Washington, Aug. 13, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

In what is being called a case with chilling implications for journalism, investigative reporter Catherine Herridge was on Thursday held in civil contempt and ordered to pay $800 a day until she reveals her sources. The ruling was stayed so Herridge can appeal. Herridge worked for Fox News in 2017 when she wrote a series of stories about Chinese American scientist Yanping Chen, the Washington Post reports. Chen was probed by the FBI, which investigated whether she lied about her service in the Chinese military and whether she used a Virginia graduate program she founded to funnel information about US servicemembers to China, the AP reports. Chen, who was never charged, sued the federal government, alleging internal government documents had been leaked to Herridge, violating Chen's privacy.

In August, a judge ordered Herridge to reveal how she'd learned about the federal probe. During a September deposition, Herridge refused, citing her First Amendment rights. In his Thursday order, the judge wrote that the court "recognizes the paramount importance of a free press in our society and the critical role that confidential sources play in the work of investigative journalists like Herridge. Yet the Court also has its own role to play in upholding the law and safeguarding judicial authority." This line from CNN encapsulates the response in media circles: "The case could have sweeping First Amendment implications for journalists and news organizations across the country." (More Catherine Herridge stories.)

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