Deep Throat Discussion

Sent to us from the King’s English Bookstore:

PROTECTION OF REPORTERS’ CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES
SUBJECT OF NOV. 13TH DISCUSSION AT KING’S ENGLISH

Deep Throat, the anonymous informant whose clandestine conversations with a Washington Post reporter helped expose the Watergate Scandal and, ultimately, bring down a president, would be an anomaly in 21st century America. Reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their boss Ben Bradlee kept Deep Throat’s identity secret for more than three decades, until the former FBI deputy director W. Mark Felt revealed it himself in a 2005 Vanity Fair interview.

In today’s world First Amendment watchdogs worry that journalists are increasingly forced to cough up their modern-day Deep Throats in court, under penalty of imprisonment. It’s a trend that imperils not only reporters, observers warn, but the future of freedom of expression in America.

Growing efforts to force reporters to reveal their confidential sources will be discussed by two prominent Salt Lakers with a personal stake in the issue on Thursday, November 13 at 7 p.m. at The King’s English Bookshop (TKE).

The event, free and open to the public, is an informal conversation between attorney Randy Dryer, a partner with Parsons Behle & Latimer, and Deseret News reporter Lucinda Kinkead. TKE owner Betsy Burton will moderate the discussion.

Burton is a board member of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), an organization that, working with the Media Law Resource Center, a not-for-profit educational organization focused on the media and the First Amendment, has organized similar discussions this year in bookstores across the country.

ABFFE President Chris Finan notes the programs have been planned “against the background of the dramatic fight to pass a reporters’ shield law in Congress.” Concerned about the “big increase in the number of subpoenas issued to reporters in recent years,” ABFFE cites several of the better-known cases: Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who went to jail for 85 days before her source, I. Lewis Libby, released her from a confidentiality agreement regarding conversations about CIA agent Valerie Plame; a 2006 case against video blogger Josh Wolf, jailed 226 days for civil contempt for refusing to give a federal grand jury outtakes of his video of a 2005 protest in San Francisco; and an August 2007 court ruling ordering five journalists to disclose, or risk being held in contempt of court, their sources for news stories about Steven Hatfill, who had been considered a possible suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Randy Dryer and Lucinda Kinkead will be available to talk with media at the bookstore either before (beginning at 6:30 p.m.) or after their 7 p.m. presentation.

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