by Gabriel Schoenfeld
April 01, 2014
The American press is in crisis, or so say many of its practitioners. The government’s actions make it harder for the press to report on what the government is doing, they claim, and pose a threat to the freedom of the press. The Obama administration’s aggressive attempts to stop and prosecute leaks have prompted free-press advocates to renew their calls for Congress to pass a shield law. A shield law would prevent journalists from being legally compelled to reveal the identities of their confidential sources. Such a law has never gained sufficient traction to pass, but recently, the effort has been making unusual headway. A shield law would hinder but not stop the administration from investigating leaks, and it would protect journalists who come upon valuable information. However, the idea of a shield law is also fraught with serious problems, which its champions too often underplay or ignore.