Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Feinstein & Durbin to Bloggers: No Shield For YOU!

A bill pending in the U.S. Senate to provide shield protection to journalists who choose to protect their sources leaves out one very important part of journalism. I don't usually go to Daily Kos for my information, but a tweet pointed me here:

But those two troublemaking Dems, now identified as Sens. Feinstein (CA) and Durbin (IL), are back again, introducing an amendment to be debated tomorrow that would essentially strike the language above:

AMENDMENT NO.__ Calendar No.__

Purpose: To appropriately limit the protection from compelled disclosure.


S. 448

To maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclo-sure of information by certain persons connected with the news media.

Referred to the Committee on ___ and ordered to be printed Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed

AMENDMENTS intended to be proposed by Mrs. F EINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. D URBIN )


In section 10(2)(A), strike clause (iii) and insert the following:

(iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity—

(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, 1or other means; and

(II) that—

(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

(cc) operates a programming service; or

(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

In section 10(2)(B), strike ‘‘and’’ at the end.

In section 10(2)(C), strike the period at the end and insert ‘‘; and’’.

In section 10(2), add at the end the following:

(D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.

Basically, Feinstein and Durbin want to restrict shield law protections for those who are either salaried employees or contractors of big media. If not, it's basically fuck you.
Mind you, this is KOS, going after two huge liberals in the Senate.

The First Amendment, of course, reads as follows (emphases added):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So.. just who is the press?

When James Madison penned the First Amendment, did he intend to extend and relegate freedom of the press to only the few newspapers that were around at the time? Or did also he mean to include the independent pamphleteers, which were by far more ubiquitous than the established newspapers of the day? Since freedom of the press and freedom of speech are inextricably intertwined, it would be my contention that the original intent of the First Amendment as penned by Madison and approved by the Constitutional Congress meant the inclusion of both under its protections. Bloggers, by extension, are certainly the modern-day counterparts of the pamphleteers who thrived at the time of the Revolution.

There is no doubt in my mind that this amounts to a protectionist measure by the established dead-tree and dinosaur media, along with their willing accomplices in Congress, against its competition in the new media.

As Markos stated,

This isn't a partisan issue, it's one between those who are so stuck in the past, that they can't fathom a more diverse and expansive media environment -- one that is no longer dominated by the NY Times and the TV networks.

If you are represented by one of the senators on the committee, please give them a call and ask them to oppose this measure. Again, this shouldn't be a partisan issue, so calling your Republican senator (for once) might actually make a difference. Committee members are:

Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Herb Kohl (Wisconsin)
Dianne Feinstein (California)
Russ Feingold (Wisconsin)
Chuck Schumer (New York -- he's kosher on this)
Dick Durbin (Illinois)
Ben Cardin (Maryland)
Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island)
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Ted Kaufman (Delaware)
Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania -- also kosher)
Al Franken (Minnesota)
Jeff Sessions (Alabama)
Orrin Hatch (Utah)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
Jon Kyl (Arizona)
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
John Cornyn (Texas)
Tom Coburn (Oklahoma)

Note -- this isn't about me. I'm a salaried writer. This amendment wouldn't exclude me. This is about most of you, and countless bloggers and writers who do their own brand of journalism because they believe in their cause, not just because it's a gig.
I'm glad that Markos has seen the light; hopefully this will serve as a wakeup call to Markos and others on the left to the fact that statist-inspired intrusion is a bane to everyone's freedoms, and touches every aspect of everyone's lives.