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Judge Holds Catherine Herridge in Contempt, Slaps Heavy Fines Until She Reveals Her Sources

Catherine Herridge, a former reporter for Fox News and CBS News, has been held in contempt for not divulging her sources from a series of stories she filed about a Chinese American scientist who became the subject of a federal investigation. Herridge wrote these pieces in 2017 about Yanping Chen, who was running a graduate program in Virginia.

Chen was never charged with any crime but filed a lawsuit following Herridge’s reporting, alleging that her personal information was “selectively leaked,” destroying her reputation. Ms. Chen wants to know who told the ex-Fox News journalist federal officials were targeting her. Herridge is now subject to an $800/day fine until she reveals her sources (via WaPo):

In a case that has worried press advocates, veteran journalist Catherine Herridge was held in contempt on Thursday and ordered to pay $800 per day until she reveals the source for a series of stories she wrote about Chinese American scientist Yanping Chen.

The ruling, from U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper, will be stayed for 30 days or until Herridge can appeal the ruling.

Cooper ruled that Herridge violated his Aug. 1 order demanding that Herridge reveal how she learned about a federal probe into Chen, who operated a graduate program in Virginia. Herridge, who was recently laid off from CBS News, wrote the stories in question when she worked for Fox News in 2017.

Chen was never charged as a result of the investigation, which sought to determine whether she had lied about her military service and whether her school’s student database could be accessed from China, as the Fox News reports revealed. But after those stories brought the probe to light, Chen sued the federal government alleging that Herridge had been given leaked materials that violated her privacy, including photographs and images of internal government documents.

Herridge sat for a deposition in late September but refused to reveal how she obtained the information, citing her First Amendment rights and telling Chen’s lawyer, “I must now disobey the order.”

Herridge was recently laid off by CBS News, which briefly seized her confidential files, which have since been returned. Still, sources within CBS News noted how this termination and the taking of documents were unusual. Herridge had been working on a story about the Hunter Biden laptop story, which put her at odds with CBS News President Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews. Herridge’s firing has the attention of the House Judiciary Committee, which wants all the documents relating to this dismissal and the seizure of files by no later than 5 PM March 1.

Press freedom and First Amendment rights are the subjects here. Others noted the chilling effect this could have on whistleblower sources if they feel their information cannot be secured.

I would hope Herridge’s attorneys appeal this ruling.


    She’s Not the first to be fined or jailed. She certainly won’t be the last.

    Theirs plenty of case law backing the judge’s decision. They all end up naming their sources.

  • Patrick Borush says:

    yeah this case has some farther reaching implications and someone talking they want to shut up and is also a DIRECT attack on 1st A and journalism as a whole. this ENTIRE govt needs to be “reset” back to factory mode and levels…

  • Glenn says:

    Good for you Catherine Herridge Don’t give that Judge Squat! Do Not Let That Scumbag Judge VIOLATE Your Rights!

  • Ollie Voile says:

    We’re standing on the front porch of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This is how it begins.

  • Loring says:

    In this banana republic the US is turning into, it’s ok to pony up fake charges to try and destroy your political opponents. And then turn around and say THEY are a threat to democracy. What they really mean is They are a threat to democrats. This is a constitutional republic. But they treat our constitution just like Pelosi did after Trumps state of the union address. They rip it to pieces with contempt. The D.O.J. under JoJo the clown has held people that they had no case against, threatening them with other dug up charges if they don’t plead guilty.



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