Catherine Herridge In Contempt For Refusing To Reveal Sources

A federal judge has held investigative reporter Catherine Herridge in contempt for refusing to reveal her source for a series of Fox News stories about a Chinese American scientist who was investigated by the FBI but never charged.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington imposed a fine of $800 per day until Herridge reveals her source, but the fine will not go into effect immediately to give her time to appeal.

Cooper wrote that he “recognizes the paramount importance of a free press in our society” and the critical role of confidential sources in investigative journalism. But the judge said the court “also has its role to play in upholding the law and safeguarding judicial authority.”

“Herridge and many of her colleagues in the journalism community may disagree with that decision and prefer that a different balance be struck, but she is not permitted to flout a federal court’s order with impunity,” wrote Cooper, who was nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama.

The case has been closely watched by media advocates, who say forcing journalists to betray a promise of confidentiality could make sources think twice before providing information to reporters that could expose government wrongdoing.

“Holding a journalist in contempt for protecting a confidential source has a deeply chilling effect on journalism. FOX News Media remains committed to protecting the rights of a free press and freedom of speech and believes this decision should be appealed,” Fox News said.

According to a CBS spokesperson, they said the contempt order “should be concerning to all Americans who value the role of the free press in our democracy and understand that reliance on confidential sources is critical to the mission of journalism.”

The source is being sought by Yanping Chen, who has sued the government over the leak of details about the federal probe into statements she made on immigration forms related to work on a Chinese astronaut program.

Herridge, who CBS News recently fired, published an investigative series for Fox News in 2017 that examined Chen’s ties to the Chinese military and stirred up questions about whether the scientist was using a professional school she founded in Virginia to help the Chinese government get information about American service members.

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