Obama Clashes with Journalists over Confidentiality Law

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Journalists became incensed this week after the White House changed course on legislation designed to protect reporters from going to jail for protecting confidential sources. Previously, President Barack Obama expressed support for a “media shield” that would place the burden on prosecutors to locate sources before resorting to subpoenaing a reporter, among other provisions. But then presidential aides told members of Congress that Obama would not support the plan unless a key change was made to protect matters involving national security.

Toward this end, the White House has insisted on an amendment that would disallow the new protections for reporters when the issue might cause “significant” harm to national security. President Obama also wants language instructing judges to defer to White House concerns in such cases.
“Not long ago, President Obama was a key supporter of this bill, but after one meeting with his national security team he appears to have been scared into making this poor decision,” said Kevin Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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