If members of the U.S. House and Senate are truly serious about cracking down brazen efforts by the U.S. Justice Department to intimidate news reporters by seeking their telecommunications with sources, they will follow the advice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and pass a federal shield law. Pence, when he was still a congressman, championed legislation to protect reporters from revealing their sources. Unfortunately, his bill passed the House, but failed in the Senate.
The proposed shield law found new life recently when it was disclosed that the U.S. Justice Department obtained phone records for 20 Associated Press and Fox News reporters. Also, they have labeled one journalist a co-conspirator for allegedly releasing security information.
In brief, this seems an effort by Attorney General Eric Holder’s department to intimidate journalists from doing their jobs.
Most states have shield laws to protect reporters, but not the federal government.
Pence said the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press.
A shield law by itself will not solve the issues of the Obama administration overstepping its bounds, but it is a start. But the most direct way right now to tell the Justice Department we will not tolerate its intrusion into the rights of a free press is to pass a federal shield law, now.