February 1, 2016

SHOULD PLANNED PARENTHOOD TAMPERING CHARGES CHILL JOURNALISTS? Law professors Sherry F. Colb & Michael C. Dorf write for CNN:

The Planned Parenthood case reveals that activists — and journalists — might also have to go to prison for undercover reporting if they violate any laws to gain access to the targets of their investigation.

Consequently, the public fails to learn about some important matters. Whistleblower statutes provide a modicum of protection for insiders who expose wrongdoing, but the risks to career and reputation frequently prevent those in the know from coming forward.

Thus, the law can legitimately circumscribe undercover investigations. For example, the Center for Medical Progress could possibly be held civilly liable for misleading editing of the Planned Parenthood videos. But the criminal prosecution of Daleiden and Merritt, even if they did break the law, could chill undercover journalists and activists everywhere.

Those charges ought to scare journalists, sure. Democratic operatives with bylines, not so much.

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