Nets Yawn at Federal Court’s INSANE Move to Hold Catherine Herridge in Contempt

March 1st, 2024 9:36 AM

Late Thursday afternoon, a Washington D.C.-based federal district court judge moved to hold former Fox News and CBS News journalist Catherine Herridge in contempt of court for refusing to burn her sources from a 2017 story while at Fox News about a federal probe into a Chinese-American scientist who was never charged.

The news came just over two weeks after Herridge was suddenly fired from CBS as part of layoffs across its parent company, Paramount Global, and briefly had her files seized (which included confidential information) from CBS.

Not surprisingly, none of the major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — cared enough to cite this actual attack on press freedoms on their flagship Friday morning news shows. Unfortunately, it was the same story on the major cable networks as well of MSNBC, NewsNation, and even the Fox News Channel.

If this were a case against, say, someone from ABC News and in good standing with corporate liberal media and other lefties, it’s a safe bet this would have received more attention.

Our Founder and President Brent Bozell had this zinger of a take:

However, Fox News released a statement about the finding, saying the call to place “a journalist in contempt for protecting a confidential source has a deeply chilling effect on journalism” and they will continue to be “committed to protecting the rights of a free press and freedom of speech and believes this decision should be appealed.”

It was only a 13-second news brief (and an earlier five-second tease), CNN This Morning had host Kasie Hunt share news with viewers in the “Morning Roundup” block: “A federal judge holding journalist Catherine Herridge in civil contempt for refusing to reveal her sources in a series of Fox News reports from 2017. She's also facing a fine of $800 a day. Herridge is expected to appeal.”

Here’s more from our friends at National Review on the decision from Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee (whose administration was, contrary to popular belief, horribly anti-free press) (click “expand”):

Cooper previously issued an order on August 1 compelling Herridge to reveal how she learned about a federal investigation into Chen that centered on statements Chen made on immigration forms related to work on a Chinese astronaut program. Herridge wrote a series of stories for Fox News in 2017 that detailed Chen’s connections to the Chinese military and raised concerns about whether a school she founded in Virginia was being used to help the Chinese government obtain information on American service members.

Chen, who sued the FBI and DOJ in 2018 over the leak, is seeking information about the reporter’s sourcing as part of her lawsuit. The scientist alleges that her personal information was leaked to “smear her reputation and damage her livelihood.”


“The Court does not reach this result lightly,” the judge wrote on Thursday. “It recognizes the paramount importance of a free press in our society and the critical role that confidential sources play in the work of investigative journalists like Herridge. Yet the Court also has its own role to play in upholding the law and safeguarding judicial authority.”

The Associated Press story further explained Herridge’s 2017 stories “examined Chen’s ties to the Chinese military and raised questions about whether the scientist was using a professional school she founded in Virginia to help the Chinese government get information about American servicemembers.”

“The stories relied on what Chen’s lawyers contend were items leaked from the probe, including snippets of an FBI document summarizing an interview conducted during the investigation, personal photographs, and information taken from her immigration and naturalization forms and from an internal FBI PowerPoint presentation,” added AP reporters Alanna Durker Richer and Eric Tucker.

A year later, the AP noted Chen sued both “the FBI and Justice Department” on the basis of her private information having been leaked to the public without her consent, having caused “both her personal and professional life” to be “upended”.

In turn, the screws were turned on Herridge, demanding she reveal her law enforcement sources who gave her said information about Chen and that she was the subject of a probe she was never charged.

Herridge eventually took the stand in September, “but declined dozens of times to answer questions about her sources” and invoked her First Amendment rights.

Instead, ABC, CBS, and NBC combined for a whopping 10 minutes and 28 seconds covering Oprah Winfrey’s decision to leave the board of Weight Watchers and donate the proceeds of her stock in the company to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Worse yet, the number bumps to an even-more ludicrous 13 minutes and 43 with the inclusion of NBC’s 3rd Hour of Today.