Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R – TX) today blasted the “Free Flow of Information Act,” a media “shield law” which is being pushed by Senate Democrats, saying it is fatally flawed and contrary to the First Amendment’s freedom of the press.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – NY), the main backer of the bill, claims that he already has a filibuster-proof majority that can pass the bill, and insists it will protect the rights of certain journalists to gather information.
In theory, the bill protects journalists from having to reveal confidential sources. Yet the bill only affords this protection to “covered journalists,” while being extremely vague over what that means and giving judges considerable latitude to decide who is or isn’t sufficiently a journalist to have protection under the law.
Therein lies the rub, as US law doesn’t have any sort of way of deciding who is a real journalist at present, which is by design. The Schumer bill doesn’t directly answer the question either, but in giving certain rights to some journalists and not others is setting the stage for a more formal system of picking and choosing which media outlets are sufficiently pro-administration to get their imprimatur and a modicum of protection as journalists, and which of us are not.