May 18, 2024
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  • Source: FreePressers
  • 03/01/2024
FPI / February 25, 2024

When acclaimed investigative reporter Catherine Herridge was included in CBS News layoffs this month, the news shocked many in the media. Then, after it was revealed that CBS officials had seized Herridge's files, computers and records, including information on privileged sources those who still valued the First Amendment freedom of the press were alarmed.

Insiders say Herridge was sacked by the network because her investigations were getting too close to revealing information damaging to the Biden White House and many Democrat power brokers. Herridge was investigating both the report by special counsel Robert Hur which revealed the extent of Joe Biden’s diminished mental capacity, and also sensitive information revealed to the world on Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop.

Herridge is also involved in a First Amendment dispute after not complying with U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper’s order to reveal how she learned about a federal probe into a Chinese American scientist who operated a graduate program in Virginia, the New York Post reported. She could be held in contempt of court for not divulging her source for the investigative report she wrote in 2017 for Fox News.

Herridge’s most recent assignment — covering the Hunter Biden probe — put her under a microscope at the left-leaning network, the New York Post reported.

It was well understood on Capitol Hill that Herridge was among the first to receive tips about the Hunter Biden investigation but she ran into “internal roadblocks at CBS News,” sources said.

Collin Rugg, who co-owns conservative website Trending Politics, posted on X: “Herridge was fired just hours after she reported on how Biden may have ‘retained sensitive documents related to specific countries involving his family’s foreign business dealings’… Wild.”

Herridge made waves in December when she warned during a CBS roundtable discussion that a “black swan event” could occur in the next year.

During the Christmas Eve edition of “Face the Nation,” Herridge told fellow panelists that her prediction for 2024 was “a little dark” because she was concerned that it “may be the year of a black swan event,” which she described as “a national security event with high impact.”

Herridge continued to pursue these stories despite reports of pushback from CBS executives, including CBS News President Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews.
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"For many of us who have worked in the media for decades, this action is nothing short of shocking," said law professor Jonathan Turley, who at two different times worked as a contributor for CBS.

"Journalists are generally allowed to leave with their files," Turley said. "Under the standard contract, including the one at CBS, journalists agree that they will make files available to the network if needed in future litigation. That presupposes that they will retain control of their files. Such files are crucial for reporters, who use past contacts and work in pursuing new stories with other outlets or who cap their careers with personal memoirs."

Herridge was among 20 CBS News staffers let go as part of a larger purge of hundreds of employees at parent company Paramount Global.

The network’s decision to hold on to Herridge's personal materials, along with her work laptop where she may have stored other confidential information, has left many staffers shaken, according to insiders.

“It’s so extraordinary,” a source familiar with the situation told the New York Post, noting that the files — which are presumptively now the property of CBS News — most likely contain confidential material from Herridge’s stints at both Fox and CBS.

The source said the network boxed up all her personal belongings except for Herridge’s notes and files and informed her that it would decide what — if anything — would be returned to her.

“They never seize documents [when you’re let go],” a second source close to the network said. “They want to see what damaging documents she has.”

A source with the media union SAG-AFTRA confirmed to Turley that the union has raised the file controversy with CBS “and remains extremely concerned about the effect of this action on journalistic practices and source confidentiality.”

The union believes this is “very unusual” and goes far beyond this individual case. “It is a matter of principle,” a union spokesperson added. “It is a matter of serious concern. We are considering all of our options.”

Turley added: "Regardless of motive, the company is dead wrong. These files may contain sources who were given confidentiality by Herridge. The company is suggesting that the privilege of confidentiality (and the material) rest ultimately with CBS. As a threshold matter, that cannot be the case with regard to files that were generated during Herridge’s long stint with Fox News. Yet CBS appears to be retaining those files, too."

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