Via CNN’s Jack Tapper:
Journalism 101: Don’t give up a source. But Jana Winter, an investigative journalist for Fox News, is facing hard time for refusing to do just that.
A friend of Winter’s told CNN, “She does not want to go to jail but is prepared to. She will not ever give up her sources and this whole ordeal has been very stressful.”
In July 2012, anonymous law enforcement sources told Winter that before he went on a shooting spree, Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes gave his psychiatrist a notebook detailing how he planned to “kill people.”
This was a huge scoop, and clearly of public interest. It raised key questions: did the system fail the victims of the Aurora shooting? What exactly happened? Winter’s scoop helped provide a check on those in power who do not always like to talk about ways in which the system – and they – failed.
In fact, last Thursday, court documents revealed that more than a month before the attack, the same psychiatrist had told campus police that Holmes was homicidal. Yet instead of a focus on how the system failed, we’re talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes’s journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack.
Holmes’s lawyers say whoever leaked the information to Winter violated a gag order, and they want her to say who it was. This has nothing to do with whether or not Holmes should go to jail, or be sentenced to death, or whether he is insane, or anything having to do with the sick and evil mind that wreaked havoc on the 12 people killed in the shooting.
A Colorado judge has said that he could rule this Wednesday whether Winter has to reveal her source, or go to jail.
The rest from Tapper here.
And here’s a good piece in New York Magazine on the double-standard on display because it’s Fox News and not, say, he New York Times that hasn’t covered the story as of the writing of this post:
It’s not often that the journalistic establishment rallies around Fox News, and there are many good reasons for that, but it’s also what makes the case of Jana Winter so fascinating. The FoxNews.com reporter — yes, a real reporter, not a talking head — is facing pressure to reveal the source that told her about Aurora killer James Holmes’s scary journals, an ongoing media saga that’s just now getting any attention at all. For Fox, always with a chip on its shoulder, the support so far is not enough. And they’re right, in a way.
The leak to Winter is thought to violate a gag order in the case, and on Wednesday, a judge will decide whether she must testify “and potentially go to jail for refusing to reveal her source,” according to Fox, which has dedicated a live-coverage page to the Free Press Fight of Winter’s cause. Other outlets have been noticeably quiet, including the New York Times, which hasn’t touched the story.
“If @janawinter, who may go to jail to protect sources, worked for @nytimes instead of @FoxNews the case would be huge,” tweeted CNN’s Jim Spellman last night. “If she worked for mainstream newspapers or CNN, I think the case would have been covered,” Judith Miller, who served 85 days in jail for not revealing a source when she worked for the Times, told BuzzFeed. “There’s a certain reluctance because it’s Fox News.” (Miller is now a Fox News contributor.)
The rest here.