Feinstein, Durbin Seek To Limit Citizen Journalism

December 2, 2009

Update: Link to the actual bill as kos doesn't seem to provide one. The amendment in question is addressed below.

S.448 Title: A bill to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media. Sponsor: Sen Specter, Arlen [PA] (introduced 2/13/2009) Cosponsors (10) Latest Major Action: 12/3/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on the Judiciary. Date of scheduled consideration. SD-226. 10:00 a.m.

Via Dailykos. The Senate was on track to do better by citizen journalism than the House given some pressure. But now, two key Democrats have introduced an amendment that would put citizen journalists at risk, giving protections to only established journalists.

This is outrageous in a land said to value and respect free speech. It seems they only want their cronies in the mainstream media to be free. The rest of us can go hang. Durbin and Feinstein. What should one expect from the likes of them?

If they get their way, these are the conditions that would apply, defining journalists and ensuring Federal protections were in place. But only under these conditions:

AMENDMENTS intended to be proposed by Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. DURBIN )


In section 10(2)(A), strike clause (iii) and insert the following:

(iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity—

(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, 1or other means; and

(II) that—

(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

(cc) operates a programming service; or

(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

In section 10(2)(B), strike ‘‘and’’ at the end.

In section 10(2)(C), strike the period at the end and insert ‘‘; and’’.

In section 10(2), add at the end the following:

(D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.

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  1. Dave C says:

    So this is how they will get back at James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles.

  2. smitty says:

    I await the tipping point for civil disobedience.

  3. PA says:

    If Republicans tried that, they’d be denounced as fascists and Nazis.

  4. Dave C says:

    And I can’t use fascist anymore to describe them?

  5. Xerocky says:

    “It seems they only want their cronies in the mainstream media to be free.”
    Free? You mean after the bailout they won’t owe anyone anything?

  6. RogerCfromSD says:

    Feinstein is as delusional as Pelosi if she really believes we (Citizen Journalists, etc) will allow her to take away our freedoms.
    Because we will not abide an unconstitutional law. Period.

  7. Dante says:

    Awesome job of putting this into context, Dan. Amendments to what? Kind of hard to call my congressman without reference to the proposed bill number. “Hey, vote against the amendments.”
    “What amendments?”
    “The ones to the bill.”
    “Which bill?”

  8. your mama says:

    People know how incompetent they are and its getting harder too hide it,they’re scared and its showing,still don’t think it will work,people are too fired up and will not be quiet or go away.

  9. S. Weasel says:

    Huh. Politicians never have been able to wrap their heads around the internet, have they? What jurisdiction do they have over sites hosted overseas and written by anonymous contributors that may not be US citizens?
    If something like this is implemented, look for gently rogue nations — say Mexico — to make names for themselves as “speech havens” for site hosting.

  10. Jack Okie says:

    Shield laws are a bad idea, period. No group or class should have special privileges. Journalism is not a priesthood.

  11. Dan Riehl says:

    That’s what the link is for Dante. Dailykos, or not, we’re on the same side of this one and I don’t begrudge throwing any traffic his way. The link, obviously, explains it all. That’s why “citizen journalism” relies on cooperation and outlinks in some ways, my friend. I want people to click through. ; )

  12. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    My local newspaper is 110% in favor of so-called shield laws. They are also on the Far Left of any given political issue – searching for any way to restrict or eliminate Constitutional freedoms of people whom they hate, which is anyone who does not belong to the al Qaeda wing of the Democrat Party.
    Who wudda thunk it – in the 21st century “professional” journalists would be the #1 advocates of censorship? It would be like finding out that Martin Luther King was a supporter of the KKK and lynching of blacks, or that the Israeli government was funding the Nazi Party, or that business owners financially supported and voted for Barack Obama.
    Wait a minute – that last one actually happened. So maybe it’s not so strange after all.

  13. MarkJ says:

    I think Durbin’s and Feinstein’s amendment is just SWELL! You go GIRLS!
    Respectfully yours,
    Joseph Goebbels
    (Formerly Reichsminister of Propaganda and Enlightenment)
    P.S. Could someone please FedEx me three pairs of asbestos underwear and a big roll of duct tape? It’s hotter than Megan Fox down here in the Ninth Circle of Hell and I’ve got to tape Hermann Goering’s mouth permanently shut. That fat f***er been running his yap non-stop since 1946 and it’s driving me piffy. Vielen Dank!

  14. John Bigenwald says:

    Durbin is my senator. I don’t expect anything more from him, and I don’t expect a response to my email.
    Dear Senator,
    Can you reconcile your amendment to S.448 with this:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    Please remember, this country’s founding was based on anonymous or pseudonymous publishing. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and The Federalist Papers – some of the very foundations of our government – would be illegal under your amendment.

  15. Charlie says:

    It’s worth remembering that when the First Amendment was penned there was no such concept of “the press” as an occupation or class of people. The reference was only to the noisy wood and iron behemoth in the back corner of the printer’s office. In other words, freedom of the press guarantees the ability of each and every one of us to print up and distribute handbills and circulars, pamphlets and newsletters, blogs and email campaigns without hindrance by government.

  16. Elmo says:

    Back in da day (member of da Boo ya tribe/in da mix) …
    I think the sayin wuz: he who controls the pipe/bag, has da powah.

  17. Fred Beloit says:

    I’ve always thought that violating the oath of office should be an impeachable offense or an offense bad enough to have a congressperson thrown out by the other members. What Durbin, Feinstein and Specter want to do seems blatantly unconstitutional to me too.

  18. So, was freedom of the press understood as a protection only for journalists by the founders? I think not.
    Here is Madison’s version, presented to Congress in 1789, indicating a broad understanding of the concept:
    “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.” [Origin of the Second Amendment, p.654]
    Just as Madison had suggested, the House committe on amendments wanted this inserted into the Constitution in Article 1, Section 9, the only location in the Constitution protecting individual rights. They combined it with other First Amendment related protections and altered it to:
    “The freedom of speech, and of the press, and of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good, and to apply to the government for redress of grievances, shall ot be infringed.” [OSA, p.680]
    Read the period sources. No one has ever regretted doing so.

  19. (D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.
    Does this mean all editorials would have to be signed? Heh heh heh…

  20. ThomNJ says:

    I’d say this attempt falls right in there with waxman’s want to “help” out media enterprises that need to be “saved” – for purely economic reasons of course!
    Is nearly everyone in the congress and senate a communist or a NAZI now? This ought never to be even breathed let alone actually formally proposed……and those were excellent points about the Federalist articles and others that were written under pseudonyms making them illegal under this despicable proposal. What would follow this? If one writes a letter of protest to a congressman – will that become a crime too?

  21. Johnboy says:

    This sounds like it could be challenged on first and fourth amendment grounds, since it seems to violate both the freedom of the press and equal protection clauses.

  22. Frayed Knot says:

    Is there a more updated version of the bill available? Because I don’t even see section 10 as referred to in the amendment. I assume that Section 10 is supposed to be Section 8 in the version contained in that link, but it still doesn’t quite jive.

  23. Roger says:

    I’ve always liked Feinstein. But if this is accurate, its a real breach of faith with those of us who have looked at her as the “adult” in the Senate.

  24. Dan Riehl says:

    That’s the only one I found, FK.

  25. Jeff Stone says:

    Pretty much just like it says in the First Amendment:”….to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media.”
    Yep, pretty much word for word.

  26. redpens says:

    These Democrat/Commies need to be impeached. They are UN-American. Period.

  27. […] ! anyone hear about this then ? well under most people radar found this at the site below . Feinstein, Durbin Seek To Limit Citizen Journalism – Riehl World News Feinstein, Durbin Seek To Limit Citizen Journalism By Dan December 2, 2009 Update: Link to […]