October 3rd, 2009
12:20 PM ET
13 years ago

Journalists target Obama over 'shield law'

WASHINGTON (CNN)– Journalists are blasting President Obama over his stance on proposed legislation that would protect journalists from having to reveal the identity of their sources.

In an email sent out late Friday, the Society of Professional Journalists expressed 'outrage' over President Obama's proposed changes to the shield bill that would protect reporters from having to divulge confidential sources in court.

"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," SPJ President Kevin Smith said in a statement. SPJ cited an event in April 2008, where candidate Obama threw his support behind the proposed legislation, the Free Flow of Information Act.

"President Obama was elected by the people, for the people. It's time for him to stand up and support legislation that gives those people the power to have better oversight of their government," Smith said.

The Society of Professional Journalists, which was founded in 1909, has boast over 10,000 members nationwide. Its Their mission to promote "the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press."

Lawyers for journalists have often cited a 1972 Supreme Court ruling to say they were protected by the First Amendment from having to testify about confidential sources. But in 2003, a federal appeals court judge said that ruling does not protect journalists.

Thirty-six states (including Washington, D.C.) have enacted some form of shield law, but there is no Federal law protecting a reporter's privilege, which the sponsors of the Free Flow of Information hope to correct.

–Ram Ramgopal and Katie Glaeser contributed to this report

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The president is a mere academic in constitutional law who merely lectured on it. He is more than willing to sell out the First Amendment rights of journalists to the military geniuses who got us into unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A one-termer in my book, unworthy of the high office.

    October 3, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Lynne

    There are very few real journalists left in America. What poses as "journalism" are half truths, unsubstantated rumours and controversy supplied by an endless stream of "anonymous sources". never is there a retraction when rumours are presented as factual and later proven to be false. The over use of "anonymous sources" leaves room for completely fabricated stories and the public at the mercy of unscurptuous, corporate owned media.

    The only way to protect validity is to make sure the "reporter" knows s/he could be held accountable for their writing. The "press" should reflect on the extremely low trust the general public has for them and their "reporting" /.

    October 3, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Tom

    When the Media ceases following the principle of profit reporting by that it means to distort the truth to sell papers than we might want to give the more protection. Right now NO. They lie and do not report both sides of any issue except what they see as supportive of their position. They MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE TILL TRUTH RETURNS TO OUR MEDIA.

    October 3, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Wayne

    I'm tired of these statements saying the President is for or against something without providing any evidence. Heresay for personal gain is all I hear in this attack. "One meeting with his National security team", oh yeah I'm sure you were privileged to that information. Give me a break!

    October 3, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Wayne

    Our government, needs some privacy as it pertains to protecting Natioanal Security, because the commited Americans whos job it is to protect America, must be protected. If the enemy knows what we are doing, then that is not national security.

    October 3, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. TRUTH

    please BARRY don't let your wife get involved in government or anything that help the people, I knew the U S A would not get the Olympiks as soon as she got involved, BE a WISE muslim

    October 3, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Bill

    Can you smmmeeeeeelllllllllll what's cookin, Government takeover.

    October 3, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Obama is not and never has been a man of the people. He is a man of the government, like all socialist. Why would someone who thinks the government should be all-powerful have any sympathy for journalists? As a candidate, Obama saw journalists as tools to getting elected, so he took their side. Now that he's elected, he sees journalists as agitators and impediments to building the totalitarian society, which all socialists and marxists crave. Obama's about-face should not be a surprise to anyone. WAKE UP! WISE UP!

    October 3, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. tate

    You guys got him elected! How you like that change. You get what you deserve. If you cant do, then become a journalist and report on other great people.

    October 3, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. worriedmom

    ooooh, think the jouranalists are getting thrown under the bus. he used you, now he doesn't need you. it is your own fault.

    October 3, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. GuyInVA

    Mr. President. We are JOURNALISTS. Don't you realize we are above the law?

    October 3, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Gary

    The only real reporters are independent bloggers. Like bowwowtalk.blogspot.com. Check it out, hard truth, cool.

    October 3, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. Keith in Austin

    Looks like the Liberal Media isn't immune from Comrade NoBama's heavy-handed will for big-government control of everything, including the Media.

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds him! Wake up and smell the odiferous stench of Socialism before it's too late for all of us.

    Rather, Mathews et al might want to consider some real journalistic credibility vs. their obvious love-affair with liberal ideology.

    October 3, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
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