Journalist is scorned for refusing to reveal sources in Fox News investigation

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 22, 2022: CBS News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge poses for a portrait in her home. When Catherine’s youngest child Peter was born with liver complications, she volunteered to give him 20% of her liver, saving his life. (Hadley Chittum / For The Times)
(Hadley Chittum/For The Times)

Journalist is scorned for refusing to reveal sources in Fox News investigation

Stephen Battaglio

February 29, 2024

A court ruling found veteran TV news correspondent Catherine Herridge in civil contempt for refusing to identify sources related to a 2017 investigation she reported for Fox News.

Herridge, who until recently worked for CBS News, declined to release information about how she learned of an FBI investigation into an academic when she was ousted over the case in September.

U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper imposed a fine of $800 per day until Herridge complies. She has time to appeal the decision before the fine takes effect.

Cooper had commissioned Herridge in August to reveal her sources for a 2017 story about Dr. Yanping Chen, a Chinese

American scientist who founded the University of Management and Technology. The Virginia-based school attracted service members who received tuition benefits from the Department of Defense.

Chen became the subject of an FBI investigation in 2010 over statements she made on immigration forms about her work in connection with a Chinese astronaut program. Her home was searched and materials were seized, but no charges were brought against her.

Years after the investigation, Herridge reported a number of stories for Fox News about the case, which examined whether Chen had concealed her former membership in the Chinese military on her immigration forms. The investigation also examined whether Chen used her school to send information about the U.S. military to the Chinese government.

The Fox News reports included family photos of Chen, excerpts from her immigration forms and part of an FBI memo.

Chen filed suit against the FBI and Defense Department in 2018, claiming the data was leaked in violation of the Privacy Act, which generally prohibits federal agencies from disclosing internal data about an individual without her consent . She is seeking a plea of ​​guilty and damages, claiming the leaks damaged her reputation and professional existence.

Chen has been searching unsuccessfully for years for the source of the government leak, which led her to target Herridge and Fox News.

In 2022, Chen’s lawyers served Herridge and Fox News with subpoenas. Herridge and the network tried to quash them, claiming her work was protected by the

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But the judge ruled that Chens must know this in the interest of her lawsuit against the government and to prevail over Herridge’s right to protect her source.

Cooper wrote that he recognized “the paramount importance of a free press in our society and the need to use confidential sources in investigative journalism. But he added that the court also has its own role to play in enforcing the law and protecting judicial authority.

In a statement, Fox News Media expressed support for Herridge.

“Disparaging a journalist for protecting a confidential source has a deeply chilling effect on journalism,” the company said in a statement. “Fox News Media remains committed to protecting the rights of a free press and freedom of expression and believes this decision should be appealed.

Chen’s attorney Andrew C. Phillips praised the decision.

“It is important to understand that without the protection of the Privacy Act, federal law enforcement officials can abuse their broad powers to invade the private life of a U.S. citizen and then selectively leak documents to smear reputation or score political points,” Phillips said in a statement. “Such misconduct should not be without recourse just because a rogue government official launders his or her misdeeds through a journalist.”

Herridge moved to CBS News in 2018, where she was a senior investigative correspondent. She left the network earlier this month as part of


round of across-the-board staff cuts at CBS News parent company Paramount Global.


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