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Opening Arguments

Too much privilege

I agree with Mike Pence on a lot of issues. This isn't one of them:

The Free Flow of Information Act simply provides qualified protection for members of the news media against compelled disclosure of confidential sources. In doing so, this legislation strikes a balance between the public interest in the free flow of information against the public interest in compelling testimony in limited circumstances such as situations involving grave risk to national security or imminent threat of bodily harm.

Giving journalists a shield law is wrong for a couple of related reasons, as noted here before. 1. Who is a "journalist" these days? Why should someone who gets a paycheck from a newspaper get any more protection than someone who dispenses useful information gratis on a blog? 2. How is "the press" supposed to be the watchdog of government if it lets government define who is a member of the press?

And, as a practical matter, with mainstream journalists the object of scorn and newspapers folding left and right, I don't think this is exactly the point in history at which we want to be seen as recipients of a government privilege.

And, while I disagree with Paul Helmke on a lot of issues, this isn't one of them. The head of the Brady organization is also an attorney with First Amendment specialization, and before he was maor he acted as The News-Sentinel's lawyer. He thinks it's a mistake to focus on journalists instead of the grand jury process itself. Give all Americans, not just journalists, greater protections against unreasonable prosecutors, and the problem will be taken care of.