CBS under fire after seizing confidential files of journalist investigating Hunter Biden
By Cassie B. // Feb 28, 2024

In an “unprecedented” and deeply disturbing move, CBS seized personal files belonging to veteran investigative reporter Catherine Herridge shortly before they terminated her employment with them.

The network's move to fire the respected journalist, who had been investigating Hunter Biden, was shocking in its own right, but the fact that it took her personal materials, records and work laptop, which may have contained a broad range of confidential information, was an appalling turn of events that threatens the very principles of free press.

The network has said that it will decide what will be returned to her, but her files are likely to contain confidential information from her time at CBS as well as her previous employer, Fox News. There could very well be sources that Herridge promised confidentiality to – sources that can take years to build a relationship of trust with and who provide information with the understanding that their identity will not be divulged.

Writing in The Hill, legal analyst Jonathan Turley reported that numerous former and current CBS employees told him they don't remember CBS ever making such a move, and some have expressed surprise that the network would lay off such a reputable journalist who regularly broke news and carried out a lot of original reporting. They say that the move is sending a “chilling signal” through the network. Other employees have said that journalists normally bring their own office contents and files with them when they depart.

A source from the SAG-AFTRA union said they were monitoring the situation and considering all of their options. In a statement, the union said: “This action is deeply concerning to the union because it sets a dangerous precedent for all media professionals and threatens the very foundation of the First Amendment.”

Widely considered a middle-of-the-road investigative reporter, Herridge's hiring by super-liberal CBS News was viewed positively. Now, her firing is raising a lot of suspicion as she was said to be working on stories that the Biden administration considered unfavorable, like the Hur report on the president’s cognitive decline and the Hunter Biden laptop – stories she relentlessly pursued even after the highest-ranking CBS executives asked her to back off. In fact, she was widely known to be one of the first people to receive tips about the investigation into Hunter Biden but was often met with “internal roadblocks” at CBS News.

Herridge is known for protecting her sources at all costs

Herridge made headlines recently when she chose to protect her sources and not comply with an order by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper to reveal how she found out that a federal probe was being conducted into a Chinese American scientist carrying out a graduate program in Virginia. She could be held in contempt of court over her refusal to give up her sources for the piece, which dates back to her time working for Fox News in 2017. Now, insiders are worried that CBS may be subpoenaed to give up the name if it is in their possession.

The idea that unknown parties could go through a journalist's files and decide which ones to keep and which ones to return could make sources more reluctant to provide information in the future, which puts the entire concept of a free press in jeopardy.

Herridge was fired earlier this month as part of a broader purge of employees, and sources said that staffers at the CBS News Washington bureau where she worked were “shocked and dismayed” that they would let go of a journalist who “brought credibility” to them.

Trending Politics’ Collin Rugg posted on X about her firing: “Herridge was fired just hours after she reported on how Biden may have ‘retained sensitive documents related to specific countries involving his family’s foreign business dealings’… Wild.”

Sources for this article include:

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